Page 284 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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served as second supervisor of my doctoral dissertation. The
particular subject of the origins of the office of head o f the Jews in
medieval Egypt, also known as the Nagid, was suggested by Prof.
Goitein, who modestly assured a most unsure beginner at our
initial meeting early in 1972 that his own chapter on this institu­
tion in
A Mediterranean Society
constituted but a “sketch” o f the
After joining the faculty of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton in
1973, and after completing my dissertation in 1976, I spent an
additional year doing supplemental research and revising the
manuscript for publication. The work matured in my Princeton
milieu, thanks to the direct and indirect influence of many o f my
colleagues in Islamic studies. Significantly, Princeton University
Press saw the book as a contribution to general Near Eastern
studies, as well as to Jewish history. It is, I believe, the first book of
Jewish history — apart from the English translation of Scholem’s
Sabbatai Sevi
and Goitein’s collection of
Letters of Medieval Jewish
— to be published by Princeton. I am honored that my
book has that distinction, as I am today to receive the prestigious
National Jewish Book Award for Jewish history, which to me
likewise constitutes recognition of the inseparability ofJewish and
general scholarship.
I wish to thank the Jewish Book Council, the distinguished
members of the Jury and the Jacob T. Zukerman Fund of the
Arbeiter Ring for having established the award for a book written
in the Yiddish language. . . .
My book
Oif Di Vegn Fun Der Yiddisher Literatur
includes essays
about thirty Yiddish writers, poets, novelists, literary critics and
playwrights; among them Chaim Grade, Bashevis Singer, Avrom
Sutzkever, Aaron Zeitlin, I.L. Peretz and others. I followed both
the traditional and established method employed in the study of
Hebrew and Yiddish literature and also the methodology de­
veloped in the field of comparative literature. My book also in­
cludes essays about Martin Buber, Lionel Trilling, Solzhenitsyn,
Rilke, Aleksandr Bloc, MacLeish and others.
During the last half century Yiddish literature received much
recognition by being translated into many languages, such as