Page 164 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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Solomon Grayzel, 1896—1980
e n c i l l e d
t h e
margin of a page in Solomon Grayzel’s personal
copy of his
The Church and the Jews in the XHIth Century
is the
two-word comment, “wrong analysis.” That, remarked a col­
league of mine, who also had the pleasure of knowing him, is just
the kind of person Dr. Grayzel was. Never, in fact, have I met
anyone so unassuming as Solomon Grayzel, nor do I recall know­
ing a person so ready to rethink his ideas and revise his conclu­
sions. These qualities enabled Dr. Grayzel to leave a lasting mark
notjust in one field, but three. He was, at once, a scholar, a teacher
and a servant of the Jewish community.
In his own eyes, Dr. Grayzel was always the teacher and scholar.
Thus, while he served as the first rabbi of Congregation Beth-El
in Camden, New Jersey, from 1921, he also pursued his doctoral
studies at the then Dropsie College. These studies led him to
explore a field which Jewish scholars previously had not dealt
with analytically. The relations of the medieval popes and the
Jews had, of course, already been studied at length by L. Erler and
Moritz Stern. But Stern’s work, despite its value, was confined to
the unannotated collection and publication of documents. Only
the German Catholic, Erler, had engaged in analysis. In the early
1880s, he published a series of articles in the
Archiv f u r Kathol-
ischen Kirchenrecht
in which he essayed an overview of papal Jewish
relations. However, Erler could not free himself of contemporary
prejudices, and, rather than seek the explanation for the vicis­
situdes of papal policy within the Church and Church teachings,
he stressed the need of the popes to restrain what he termed
Jewish pride and insolence.
Following Erler a number of briefs essays appeared, most nota­
bly those of F. Kayser on Nicholas V
1885) and L. Lucas
on Innocent III (
, 1897). E. Rodocanachi’s 1891 monograph
on the period of the Roman ghetto also deserves note. Neverthe­
less, a systematic answer to Erler was still unavailable. Beyond
that, Jewish historiography in general had been heavily colored