Page 135 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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BERKOWITZ / EPHRAIM DEINARD
127
Deinard himself contributed to the growing number of He­
brew works which appeared in America. He was a prolific author
and wrote on many subjects. In December, 1888, a mere two
months after his arrival, he began to edit a Hebrew weekly period­
ical
Ha-Leumi
(The Nationalist), which survived but a half-year.
Undeterred, Deinard wrote over thirty books during the next
forty years. He reprinted, edited or published another ten. About
one-fourth of all these books were printed in Kearny-Arlington,
New Jersey, putting that town on the map of Jewish publishing.2
In addition to the usual bibliographic data (publisher, place of
printing, date of publication, number of pages, etc.) given in
Kohelet America,
Deinard offers his personal opinions. Occasion­
ally, he praises the author’s efforts. Regarding Israel Konovitz’s
work,
The God Idea,
(item no. 45) Deinard acknowledges the
encyclopedic nature of the book and voices the hope that such
books will multiply in America. On the other hand, there are not
infrequent acerbic comments. Typical of these denunciations are
the following: “The Hebrew is atrocious and as for the contents—
why waste ink over them,” (item 426); “[The author claims that his
sermons] deal entirely with contemporary issues even though
they are thirty generations old” (item 477); “. . . the writer is an
ignoramous, indeed a scoundrel. . .” (item 619). The first part of
the book contains valuable essays on Hebrew literature, particu­
larly in America. Unfortunately these essays are also marred by
Deinard’s astringent comments.3
Though Deinard loved books, he was not bookish. He was
never detached or dispassionate. Each issue, no matter how tri­
vial, became one of crucial significance. He lacked balance and
sound judgment. He had an abundance of polemical zeal.
The confluence of books, writing and controversy started very
early in Deinard’s career. While still in his twenties, he travelled
throughout Crimea. He wrote two books on his travels:
MasaKrim
(1878) is a history of the Jewish and Karaite communities in that
region;
Masa B ’Hazi Ha-Ee Krim
(1879-1880) is more of a
travelogue. On these travels he met Abraham Firkovich, a Karaite
who was determined to prove the independence of the Karaites
2 For a listing o f Deinard’s books, see Israel Schapiro, “Ephraim Deinard,”
Publi­
cations of the American Jewish Historical Society,
vol. 34 (1937), pp. 149-163.
3 See Jacob Kabakoff, “Ephraim Deinard’s
Kohelet America,
Seekers and Stalwarts:
Essays and Studies in American Hebrew Literature and Culture
(Hebrew, 372 pp.
1978) pp. 55-61.