Page 67 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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unwarranted fear of dire repercussions, they have permitted them-
selves to be exploited by numerous organizations in quest of “a
program.” The rabbi is the program. Consequently, such harried
rabbis often deliver hurried and mediocre sermons. So much val-
uable time is frittered away in delivering “expendable” addresses
that little time is left for study, meditation and preparation.
Nevertheless, despite these and other handicaps, the level of
Jewish preaching in the United States, particularly within the past
two decades, has been almost uniformly high. Especially is this
true of the sermons which have been reduced to writing. Many
of the published volumes of sermons have attained a high order
both in style and content. Even in print, they breathe a spirit
of forthright courage, sincerity and deep devotion to the cause
of Israel and his God. Generally, they deal with the Jew’s reli-
gious, social and cultural problems in a predominantly non-Jewish,
if not anti-Jewish, environment, Zionist aspirations, the need for
an intensified Jewish life stemming from a more thorough educa-
tional program for the Jewish child', adolescent and adult, and all
uniformly exhort the Jew to bear himself with dignity and retain
his indestructible faith in God and the eternality of Israel.
At the obvious risk of unintentionally offending some of his
valued colleagues, the writer will list some of the rabbis who have
contributed most prolifically and effectively to Jewish homiletical
literature during the past quarter of a century. And although this
list is confined exclusively to that written in the English language,
mention must be made of two contemporaries whose Hebrew ser-
mons have profoundly influenced the homiletic thinking of most
traditional rabbis in this country. They are Rabbi Isaac Nissen-
baum and Rabbi Mosheh Avigdor Amiel, both of whom recently
passed away in Palestine.
On the American scene during the past decade and a half, and
judging solely from the written record (this is not intended as a
listing of great American Jewish preachers which would normally
begin with names such as Stephen S. Wise, Abba Hillel Silver,
Solomon Goldman, etc.), Rabbis Abraham J. Feldman, Leo Jung,
Israel H. Levinthal (in this writer’s opinion, the finest traditional
preacher, in writing, in the country) and Louis I. Newman, have
written most extensively in this field. Others who have written
less prolifically, (one or more volumes), but who have, nevertheless,
made valuable contributions to Jewish homiletics include Rabbis
Julius Berger, Joel Blau, Jacob Bosniak, Abraham Burstein, Harry