Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

Basic HTML Version

which had been somewhat neglected by western scholarship:
his old age, his activities in Egypt, after he had emigrated there
from his native Tunisia. Fischel summarized his research on
that subject in a book entitled
Ibn Khaldun in Egypt: His Public
Functions and His Historical Research
(1382-1406), Univer­
sity of California Press, 1967. Needless to say, Fischel published
also a series of studies on Ibn Khaldun and Jewish matters.
The interested reader will find them registered in the Ibn
Khaldun Bibliography prepared by Fischel and included in
the last-named book, p. 184.
I t is noteworthy and symbolic that Walter Joseph Fischel came
to the United States in the wake of his travels to the Orient.
T o be sure, he published here as early as 1932, when his article
“With the Marranos in Persia” appeared in the
Jewish Forum.
But he came here first (from Hong Kong, I believe) to the West
coast, and there, at Berkeley, he met William Popper, an out­
standing scholar, Professor of Semitic Languages and Litera­
tures at the University of California, and—very important for
the young scholar from Jerusalem—a brother-in-law of Dr. Judah
L. Magnes of the Hebrew University. This meeting proved to
be decisive for Fischel’s future. Popper became a great friend
and admirer of Fischel and persuaded him to remain in Ber­
keley, and to relieve him of part of his teaching load. This was
a very difficult decision for Fischel, for he was a great lover of
Zion. I still remember his hesitation. But the magnificent op­
portunities for scientific work provided by Berkeley and his
belief in American Jewry decided the matter.
Berkeley gave Fischel also something he had missed thus far
in life: happiness as a husband and a father. His wife Irene
was not only an invaluable help in the preparation of his pub­
lications, but in her constant yet unobtrusive watch over his
fragile health, contributed to the prolongation of his life, God
knows, for how many years. The academic successes of his
daughter Corinne, especially in the field of Hebrew studies,
gave him much satisfaction, and the proud father never forgot
to report about them.
In the last year of his life Fischel published
Unknown Jews
in Unknown Lands: The Travels of Rabbi David D’Beth Hillel