Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

Basic HTML Version

51
S
c hw a r z
— T
h e
M
e n o r a h
J
o u r n a l
Zionism was defended by advocates like Viscount Bryce and
Felix Frankfurter. In addition to Zionism, all aspects of educa-
tion, religion, civil rights, communal organization, philosophy,
history, literature, and the fine arts were critically and judiciously
examined. It is possible to make a first-rate anthology from the
numerous essays in many of these fields.
Closely allied to the discussion of issues and programs of
Jewish life, and of exceptional significance, is the humanistic
point of view of the
Journal’s
writing. The editors were not
caught in the trap of forcing a mediation between the “secular”
and the “religious” elements—a distinction which they rightly
considered alien to Judaic tradition. All of Jewish life and
culture was viewed impartially from the viewpoint of critical
intelligence, and only what was considered sound and con-
structive was affirmed. The knife of criticism and satire was
plunged into all that was pretentious and shoddy and com-
placent. Creative minds were marshalled to champion a deeper,
richer, living Judaism. This viewpoint was superbly elucidated
in Lowenthal’s essay, “On a Jewish Humanism,” published in
the
Journal
almost forty years ago.
Of special importance was the
Journal’s
contribution to
belles-
lettres.
Most of the writers who made significant additions to
Jewish American literature were midwifed and first published
in its pages. Every form of writing was welcomed—fiction, verse,
drama, commentary, humor, travelogue, letters, chronicles, trans-
lation, memoirs, criticism, and biography. Every book of con-
sequence was reviewed, and the quality of the reviews was
unsurpassed in any American magazine of the period. Few will
quarrel with a critic’s estimate that the
Journal
not only was
concerned with literature, it also was literature. Among the
pioneering achievements of the
Journal
was the introduction
to the American public of original and creative work of a host
of painters, sculptors, and musicians, foreign as well as American.
It was due to the efforts of Sylvia Mardfin, who succeeded
Askowith as managing editor in 1923, that much of the art
material that went into the early numbers was secured. The
works of more than 170 artists were beautifully reproduced, and
many of them who appeared in the
Journal
for the first time
in this country have since become world famous. I cite just a
few names: Chagall, Rubin, Epstein, Kisling, Lipschitz, Mane-
Katz, Modigliani, Pissarro, and Soutine. Moreover, many issues
contain reproductions of medieval and ghetto folk art, ranging
from illuminated manuscripts to the wooden synagogues of
Poland.
With the prevalence of theological
Buber-maises
in our day,
it will be well to underscore the serious, wide-ranging discussion
of religious viewpoints and problems in the
Journal .
Thinkers