Page 118 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
112
East European countries of the World Zionist Executive w ith
headquarters in Berlin. When the Zionist Organization removed
to Denmark on the outbreak of World W ar I, Bernstein became
co-editor of the
Copenhagen Zionist Bulletin,
a highly regarded
journal. His book
Zionism,
published in Copenhagen in 1915 in
several languages, became a valuable reference work for many
Jewish communities in Europe. His volume
The Policy of the
Roumanian Government towards Jews,
published by the Zionist
Organization in Denmark, served as a reference work at the
peace conference of Versailles where the question of m inority
rights for the Jews of Roumania was debated. For a brief period,
Bernstein joined the staff of the Central Zionist Office in London
in 1919. When shortly thereafter he came to America, his
experience and talents were recognized, and he was appointed
editor of
Dos Yiddishe Folk,
one of the official journals of the
Zionist Organization of America. He has held this post for over
a quarter century. For a brief period he was co-editor of
Hatoren,
a Hebrew literary weekly under the editorship of Reuben
Brainin. In Europe Bernstein had contributed articles on me-
dieval and modern Hebrew writers, bu t it was only after he
arrived in America tha t he began to devote a great deal of
his literary effort to research in the field of medieval Hebrew
poetry.
Hebrew Essays
Bernstein gathered many of his Hebrew articles into a single
volume which was published in New York in 1928 under the
title
Ba-Hazon Ha-Dorot
(“In the Vision of Generations”). T h e
articles, written in a popu lar vein and in a lucid Hebrew style
with Biblical overtones, are based upon the findings of careful
scholarly research. Bernstein was particularly attracted to think-
ers or writers whose ideas were novel and unconventional and
who were inspired by the ideal of the redemption of Israel in its
own land. Thus he depicts Ashtori ben Moses Ha-Parhi (1282־
1357) as an unusual personality in m igrating to Palestine at
tha t early date and devoting his energies to the upbu ild ing of the
land. Ha-Parhi’s magnum opus,
Kaftor Va-Ferah
(“Knop and
Flower”), contains a geography of the Holy Land and its political
and natura l history—a rare work for the M iddle Ages. In ano ther
article Bernstein attempts to redeem the repu ta tion of the poet
Solomon Alkabez, au thor of the stirring poem “Lekha Dodi”
(“Come, my beloved!”), who had been unjustly slighted because
of his Kabbalistic preoccupations. According to Bernstein, Alka-
bez’s inspiring poem brought about a revival of the Sabbath
spirit and made the Sabbath a universal concept in European
culture. In other essays he writes sympathetically abou t Shab-
betai Zebi, the false Messiah, and about Uriel Acosta, who had