Page 13 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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with deep reverence and respect by Jew and Christian alike. It
is noteworthy that the
Wall Street Journal,
which is basically the
organ par excellence of America’s materialistic empire, devoted
to this Olympian spiritual genius an article of almost one
thousand words entitled, “Rabbi Heschel’s Heritage of Wonder
and Awe.” His ineluctable passion for Social Justice burgeoned
out of his empathy with the oppressed and disinherited of man-
kind. He visited Pope Paul VI in the Vatican, urging a strong
declaration on the Jews by Vatican Council II; but he also was
in the forefront protesting the discriminations and oppression
suffered by other ethnic minority groups. His ecumenism is at-
tested by his becoming the first rabbi ever appointed to the
faculty of the Protestant Union Theological Seminary in New
York. As Professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism for twenty-
seven years at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, he
exercised a benedictive and inspirational influence on the up-
reaching minds of his students. Of his more than a score of books
on Jewish theology and philosophy, his magnum opus was pub-
lished in two parts:
Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion
in 1951, and
God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
in
1955. These works will
be
read and studied with those of his
one-time teacher Martin Buber, Rosenzweig and Maimonides.
Rabbi Heschel’s legacy is far beyond compute. The essence
of this legacy was epitomized by his daughter during the funeral
service, when she read David’s admonition to his son Solomon
(First Chronicles 28: 9) : “Know thou the God of thy father and
serve Him with a whole heart and willing mind.”
Zevi Scharfstein, blessed with longevity spanning more than
four score years, was an institution in himself. Before arriving in
America in 1914, he had served as principal of Safa Berura in
Brzezany, Poland, and as secretary of the Hebrew Teachers Asso-
ciation in Austria. His American career was fructified with pro-
digious achievements far too numerous to enumerate here. Author
of more than thirty books, Hebrew educator, editor, journalist
and publisher, Zevi Scharfstein constructed a veritable pyramid
of accomplishments in the fields of Jewish education and He-
brew literature. His three volume
Otzar ha-Rayonot veha-Pit-
gamim
in 1966 is a splendid contribution to Hebrew lexicography,
and receiving the Louis LaMed literary prize was one of the sev-
eral awards he fully merited.