Page 133 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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MENAHEM H. SCHMELZER
Alexander Marx (On the Occasion of the
100th Anniversary of His Birth)
A t a t im e
when Jewish studies are gaining wider and wider
acceptance and recognition on the American Jewish scene, and
at a time when universities and colleges include in their
offerings the teaching of Judaica and Hebraica at an ever
increasing rate, one may find it rewarding to pause and reflect
on the historical roots of these developments. Very few knowl-
edgable people would challenge the assumption that among
individual Jewish scholars and leaders, Alexander Marx, whose
100th anniversary of b irth is being marked in 1978, may be
considered as one of the chief architects of the phenomenal
growth of classical Jewish scholarship in this country.
Providence, according to Jewish tradition, assures the sur­
vival of Judaism by the emergence of new centers of learning
before others decline. T he well-known legend of the four cap­
tives, who carried Jewish learning from Babylonia to the Jews
of Europe, is only one example out of many which illustrates
how new sites of Jewish studies evolved before the decline and
demise of others. In 19th century Europe, Jewish scholarship
was one of the major forces tha t shaped the profile of the
modern Jew. This major force had an impact also on the new
centers of Jewish life in the 20th century. The two new centers,
that of the United States and tha t of Israel, assured and
guaranteed the survival of the best traditions of modern Jewish
scholarship before the catastrophe of the Holocaust befell
European Jewry.
When Solomon Schechter brought a group of young scholars
to these shores in 1902 he became instrumental in transplanting
East, as well as West European modes of learning to a new
environment. Alexander Marx, 24 years of age at that time, was
among those who, together with Schechter, Louis Ginzberg and
others, carried the burden and made possible this new begin­
ning. Born in Elberfeld, Germany, and raised in Konigsberg,
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