Page 96 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 27

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A L E X A N D E R A L A N S T E I N B A C H —
POE T IN W O R D AND DEED
On the Occasion of His Seventy-fifth Birthday
B
y
R
obert
G
ordis
T
h e
word “poet,” derived from the Greek, means “ a doer” or
“ creator.” Both in its original meaning and in its derived and
more familiar sense, the term is an admirable description of A.
Steinbach, whose career as a creator has expressed itself both in
word and in deed. What is equally significant, while he is a son
of his age, he has not been submerged in it, because he is primarily
a son of his people and a product of its tradition.
The basic characteristic of our age is divisiveness —the drive
toward fragmentation, the loss of unity among men, the atrophy
of the concern for the common weal. The epitaph of our genera­
tion may well be contained in T. S. Eliot’s familiar lines:
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold,
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
As against this dominant trend of our times stands the Jew, who
has always been driven, or if you will, been obsessed, by his vision
of unity everywhere and always. The one Living God, creator
of heaven and earth, is revealed for the Jew in one universe and
one humanity. The families of mankind of all nations and races
are branches of a single tree, the stock of Adam. The multiplicity
of goals and desires within the human breast, all the aspects we
subsume under the categories of “body” and “soul,” are not an­
tagonists, at war with one another, but organically related elements
of the integrated human personality. This drive toward unity, fun­
damental to the Jewish tradition, is not merely a religious in­
sight—it is also a basic assumption of the scientific enterprise.
That we live, not in a pluriverse, but in a universe, is an act of
faith indispensable and anterior to every scientific experiment and
theory concerned with discovering the laws of nature. Einstein’s
famous equation is perhaps the greatest scientific instance of this
intuition of unity which is fundamental to Judaism.
Alexander Alan Steinbach is the living embodiment of this basic
Jewish ideal. His many-faceted career reflects this aspiration to­
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