Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
prevail.” While working on these projects, he still found time to
edit for the British and Foreign Bible Society a German transla­
tion of the Pentateuch, written in Hebrew script.18
AMERICAN TRIP
After he had recovered from a bout with a lung ailment he
went in the fall of 1899 to the United States, where he hoped to
find more customers for the concordance. He met with his son
Israel, who had become a photographer in New York, and whose
studio on the Lower East Side was frequented by Yiddish and He­
brew authors and artists, among them many of his father’s
friends from the days of the Russian
Haskalah.
Mandelkern was
well received by them, although the Jewish press scarcely paid
any attention to him. He was invited to deliver a lecture at the
Hebrew Institute, an establishment devoted to popular educa­
tion. He chose as his theme Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac but his
unorthodox exegesis of that event aroused a fierce and vocifer­
ous response from the aud ience . Ever the controversial
polemicist, Mandelkern managed again to embroil himself in an
acrimonious debate.
Following his stay in New York, he travelled to several other
cities in the United States and Canada, aided by former
maskilim
and Jewish philanthropists, but did not manage to sell more than
about a hundred copies of the concordance at a price of $30
(quite a large sum even for a massive two-volume work, consider­
ing that the average monthly wage was then about $40). During
his stay in America he wrote several Hebrew poems, among
which was one on the art of photography, and a reply to a poem
by Menahem Mendel Dolitzky who had expressed his despair
about the cultural future of American Jews. Mandelkern voiced
his conviction that Jewish wit and wisdom would still flourish in
the new country, and that literature in Hebrew as well as Yiddish
(a language then disdained by many Jews as a literary medium)
would continue to be written.19
In 1901 he returned to Leipzig where he made plans for a con­
18 .p/EPU |j/ur>K“Qi7rr y»K
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iss lynynys lyanjnynjKera mx oyD^mxya
.
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19 A few stanzas of these poems are quoted in Malachi’s article (note 14), p. 115.