Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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KAGANOFF/RABBINIC LITERATURE IN THE UNITED STATES
4 9
from an estimated quarter of a million people to approximately
three and a quarter million. Although most of the energy of
the newly arrived was directed at earning a living and adjusting
to the conditions of the New World, American Jewry was not
as much a “Treife Medine” as those remaining in Eastern Eu­
rope imagined.
The number of volumes in rabbinic literature that were pub­
lished increased dramatically. The authors were almost in every
instance immigrants, although some did come prior to the mass
exodus from Europe and had even published before their ar­
rival in America. In noting the various categories, we shall try
to indicate at least in general terms how greatly the number
of titles increased.
TALMUD AND MIDRASH
Prior to 1882, we noted two titles that were published under
this rubric. While it is true that 28 years passed before a third
talmudic work appeared, at least 30 such titles were published
by 1917. Among the more significant was a “monumental com­
mentary” on the tractate Bikkurim of the Palestinian Talmud
that was published in 1887 and written by Rabbi Abraham
Eliezer Alperstein of Chicago. The commentary includes the
text of the Yerushalmi and is divided into three parts, each
section emphasizing a different aspect of the original. A second
edition appeared in 1899 with an additional commentary.
In 1893, the Hebrew scholar and writer, Nehemiah Samuel
Libowitz, published a study of the Aggada in the Talmud en­
titled
Doresh Reshumot Ha-Aggadah.
Libowitz was a diamond mer­
chant born in Kolno, Poland in 1862, who emigrated to America
in 1881. He was so successful that he could print over twenty
books privately. Two subsequent editions of this aggadic work
appeared in 1919 and 1929.
Pirke Aboth was apparently a very popular subject in the
American Jewish community. At least seven other editions, in
addition to
Avne Yehoshu°a
and
Sayings of the Pharisees,
appeared
prior to World War I. The fact that Pirke Aboth was recited
every Sabbath afternoon in the summer months, that it is a
very small tractate, that traveling maggadim or preachers were
very popular in the immigrant community, no doubt contrib­
uted to this phenomenon.