Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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JONATHAN D. SARNA
The Jewish Publication Society
1888
-
1988
*
T
he
J
ewish
P
ublication
S
ociety
o f
A
merica
will be one hun ­
dred years old on Ju n e
3, 1988.
It has compiled an enviable
record over the past century : publication o f over seven hundred
different titles, distribution o f some nine million Jewish books,
translations o f nearly one hundred foreign-language volumes o f
Judaica into English, and sponsorship o r co-sponsorship o f some
o f the most significant Jewish cultural undertakings o f the last
century, including two Bible translations; a six-volume revised
translation o f Heinrich Graetz’s
History of the Jews',
seventeen
volumes o f the Schiff Library o f Jewish Classics; seven volumes o f
Louis Ginzberg’s
Legends of the Jews',
and eighteen volumes (to
date) o f Salo W. B a ron ’s
Social and Religious History of theJews.
No
Jewish subject has been alien to the Society. History and Bible,
Talmud and Midrash, Philosophy, Theology, and Mysticism, Lit­
eratu re and A rt, America and Israel, Contemporary Jew ry and
Contemporary Judaism , books for children, and books for col­
lectors — all these and more have been represented on the Socie­
ty’s list o f publications.
No
Jewish publisher in the whole history
o f Jewish publishing has a comparable record o f achievement.
The Society’s centennial offers an appropriate moment for a
look back. This is not the place for a full-scale history of the Soci­
ety; that will require a volume to itself. Instead, I propose to
return to 1888, the year that the Society was actually founded.
What happened in that fateful year, and, as I shall more briefly
describe, what was achieved in the quarter-century that followed,
shaped a good deal of the Society’s subsequent history, revealing
much about the Society’s ongoing aims and objectives.
* This article is partially based on the second chapter of my forthcoming history
of the Jewish Publication Society, to be published in 1988. Full documentation
may be found there.
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