Page 154 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
of God’s will in history —
such
is at once our Judaism and our
Zionism, one and indivisible.” He would not be content with a
State of Israel which was “merely another state among the states
of the pagans” — the State of Israel
had
to be “in some sense we
cannot yet discern . . . a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
And Jewish life in America? “The measure of American Zionism
will be the measure of American Judaism. Authentic Jews are and
must be Zionists.”
The founding of Bar-Ilan University at Ramat Gan in the early
1950s offered Lewisohn an opportunity to formulate his “envoi.”
In a speech which he prepared for the occasion he addressed
himself to the Jewish share in “the long crisis of mankind.” The
Jewish people was “the living incarnation, even in sin . . ., of God
and His Law, of form, cosmos, obedience,” but “idolatrous slave-
states” — Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia — could not endure that
incarnation and were impelled to attempt its annihilation. Even
more wounding was the fact that Jews had been and were being
spiritually as well as physically victimized, so that “thousands of
Jews, especially . . . intellectuals, joined in the nihilist rebellion
against the foundations of human civilization . . . and helped to
gnaw away the rock upon which alone their feet could stand.”
Even in the Jewish State there was the threat of “this pseudo­
humanitarian apostasy,” but “no one not wholly bereft of histori­
cal vision or historical insight will imagine that the Medinath
Yisrael can serve its function either as a nation or as a factor
among the nations unless it houses a people that will be in the
deepest sense a different people, a
goy kaddosh
.” As he saw it,
“unless the State is a Jewish State whose continuity with the whole
ofJewish history is unhu rt and unbreached ,. . . all the aspirations
toward Zion and all the blood and tears and all the generosity and
selfless effort of many generations will be in mortal danger of
having been almost in vain.”
Lewisohn’s approach to Zionism from the publication of
Israel
to the appearance of
The American Jew
— a span of twenty-five
years — seems rather remarkably consistent. Even after the hor­
rors of
theEndldsung
had become common knowledge, Lewisohn
could write, “The dream and the redemption of
Eretz Yisrael
are
pure . . . Revenge and triumph do not enter in.” He always saw
“authentic” Jewry — in particular, the Yishuv — as exemplary of
the best in Western civilization. Zionism, as he conceived of it,
constituted no departure from the values of the West; on the