Page 123 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF CYRUS ADLER
TO JEWISH LITERATURE
On the 100th Anniversary of His Birth
B
y
A
braham
A. N
eum an
T
h is
art icle
is necessarily limited in scope to one phase of
Cyrus Adler’s writings and personality. In fairness it must
be indicated at the outset that some of his most important
literary works were related to the non-Jewish field of Americana
and Semitic scholarship. These were the products or a sub-
sequent result of his early life in association with Johns Hopkins
University, The Smithsonian Institution and government service,
with all of which he still maintained relationship in later years.
The interest generated in these spheres colored his thinking and
his personality, and left an indelible impression upon him as the
American scholar and statesman.
But Adler’s contribution to Jewish life and thought was
through the institutions he founded or directed: cultural, his-
torical, religious institutions; organizations and movements for
the well-being of Jews at home and abroad. These institutions
provided the media in which Dr. Adler expressed himself and
made contributions to American Jewish thinking. In the main,
his influence in these spheres was exerted not by the power
of the pen, but by force of personality.
His individuality was most effective in direct personal contact
and in group conference. His keen reasoning and clarity of
speech, his earnest convictions and rare personal charm made
him magnetically attractive and convincing. He wielded extra-
ordinary influence within a circle of exceptionally gifted in-
dividuals possessing great financial resources. With their co-
operation, he succeeded in laying the foundation of institutions
which were destined to implement his major plans for American
Jewry.
Through these institutions and their literary vehicles, Adler
made his contributions to Jewish literature. First in chronological
sequence was the inauguration of the American Jewish Historical
Society, which came into being through his initiative. For
twenty years he served as its President and contributed many
valuable studies in the volumes of its
Publications.
Among these
may be singled out his studies on the Inquisition in Mexico,
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