Page 154 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
dispersion. To Rawidowicz’s mind, the Zionist establishment was
substantially diminishing the force o f its credo precisely because it
totally ignored that need.
The Diaspora’s input into Jewish culture, Rawidowicz main­
tained, is as vital as that of the Land of Israel. A telling example
from the distant past was the Babylonian Talmud; another of
more recent vintage was the Yiddish language, literature and art.
Indeed , with all his profound commitment to Hebrew,
Rawidowicz spoke, wrote, and loved Yiddish and he identified as
well with its values.8 He did not advocate the promotion o f Yid­
dish in present-day Zion where Hebrew is as indigenous as the
produce of the soil. Yet he felt very strongly about perpetuating it
in the lands where it had flowered and flourished.
While the Zionism of Simon Rawidowicz still points to Zion, in
essence it is rather very close to what is usually called Judaism or
simply Jewishness, and thus is no longer an exclusively territorial
conception. The ancestral territory is only one element; the rest is
much wider in scope and content.
When after more than three decades of Jewish statehood and
political independence, we view the present condition of Dias­
pora Jewry in terms of ancestral culture, national creativity,
aliyah, assimilation, anti-Semitism, and other vital issues of con­
cern to the Jewish people, Rawidowicz’s contention that the gran­
diose event of 1948, though supremely decisive, was far from
being the solution o f the Jewish problem in its global entirety
appears all the more valid. More and more, his views seem to have
been vindicated by ongoing events.
8 A sizable volume of Rawidowicz’s writing’s in Yiddish, entitled
Schriften
(Writ­
ings), was published in Buenos Aires, in 1962. A short time before his death, he
was offered the position of editor-in-chief of the Yiddish Encyclopedia; he had
time only for gathering some preparatory material.