Page 35 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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27
ZAFREN / JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIAS
sufficient information and other misleading factors. I t is unfor-
tunate that those who are sophisticated enough to recognize the
flaws probably do not need the data, and those who need the
data are not sophisticated enough to recognize the flaws.
The
EJ
is an unhappy mixture of excellence and less than
mediocrity. Its reflection of Jewish life today, of recent scholar-
ship, and of the Israeli point of view makes it attractive to many
despite the weak contributions, the errors, the omissions (many
have noted the absence of “Jewish Wit and Humor” but there
are other lacunae), and other imperfections. It is just a shame
that a level of reasonable excellence was not maintained—all the
more so because the
EJ
is likely to be the only current multi-
volume Jewish encyclopedia available for a long time to come.
OTHER ENCYCLOPEDIAS
What alternatives are there to the
EJ
? There are many—fall-
ing into categories like reprints of older multi-volume encyclo-
pedias, relatively new one-volume encyclopedias, and non-English
encyclopedias.
The
Jewish Encyclopedia,
originally published in 1901-1906 is
available in an inexpensive reprint (N.Y., KTAV, 1964, $99.50).
This twelve volume work, obviously out of date in many respects,
remains extremely useful and authoritative. Over and over re-
viewers of the
EJ
compare the
EJ
with the
JE\
and in areas where
up-to-dateness is not significant, the old
Jewish Encyclopedia
wins
in scholarliness and accuracy.
The
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
has also been reprinted
(lOv. and
Reading Guide,
N.Y., KTAV, 1969, $150.00). Because
this was a popularizing encyclopedia, it has not had a good repu-
tation among scholars. It has been virtually ignored by the back-
ers of the
EJ,
who claim that the
EJ
is the first “serious” encyclo-
pedia in over 65 years and, in some releases, not even mentioning
the
UJE
which appeared in 1939-44. But the
UJE
was and is a
major, semi-popular encyclopedia which is relatively strong in
biography, American Jewish life, relations between Jews and
non-Jews, and many other topics. It, like the
Jewish Encyclopedia,
is not superseded by
EJ.
The one-volume encyclopedias that have appeared since 1958
fall into two main categories: those that cover “Judaism” and