Page 240 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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Presently he is working on a collection of true
short stories to be entitled
Legends of Today
and on a book on
the philosophy of the holocaust.
Israel Efros
Dr. Sidney B. Hoenig, professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva
University, presented the Frank and Ethel S. Cohen Award for a
Book on Jewish Thought to Dr. Israel Efros. He said in part:
“Doctor Israel Efros’ new volume,
Ancient Jewish Philosophy:
A Study in Metaphysics and Ethics,
is the result of his scholarly
creativity, which is tied in with European Yeshivot, American
academies of study and new Israeli institutions of learning.
“Dr. Efros' volume—filled with interpretations of talmudic
sources, apocryphal references, Dead Sea Scroll analysis, midrashic
homilies—shows predominantly that ‘biblical ethics is infinite
idealism.’ This in essence is Jewish philosophy, different from
deterministic intellectualism of the Greeks. Moreover, Dr. Efros
notes: ‘Biblical ethics is not staticism but activity. When a man
does not act, he is not moral.’
“It is this philosophy of thought that has been translated into
undiminished action, into full creativity, throughout his life.
Born in Ostrag, Russia, Israel Efros studied in the famous Yeshiva
of Mir. When Bar Mitzvah he came to this country and studied
at Yeshivat Rabbenu Yizhak Elhanan, now known as Yeshiva
University. He then studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary
and received his Ph. D. from Columbia in 1915. In 1937 the
Seminary conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Hebrew
Letters, honoris causa. He founded and became the first dean
of the Baltimore Hebrew College. Later he served as professor
of Semitics in the University of Buffalo, and subsequently he
was professor of Hebrew at Hunter College and professor of
Jewish philosophy at Dropsie College.
“Study is of value when it brings to accomplishment. Dr. Efros
was invited by the Municipality of Tel Aviv to help found the
Tel Aviv University and became its first rector. At present he is
its honorary president. We can thus well understand why in 1962
Dr. Efros received the Henrietta Szold Award for his contribu-
tion to higher education in Israel.
“To this exceptional record is to be added that Dr. Efros has
written five books of Hebrew verse and five books on Jewish
philosophy. The Dvir Publishing Company of Tel Aviv is now
publishing his Hebrew collected works in 8 volumes. He has
twice received the LaMed Prize in America and the Tscherni-
kovsky Prize, the Brenner Prize, and the Milo Prize in Israel.”