Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
In 1897 a first effort was made to publish an American edition
o f the Talmud. In that year Michael Levi Rodkinson published
the original text with an English translation of four tractates:
Shekalim, Rosh Hashanah, Yoma
and
Hagigah.
The text was re­
vised and corrected by Isaac Mayer Wise, the most prominent
American Reform rabbi and president of the Hebrew Union
College. The effort was severely criticized by Judah David
Eisenstein in his work
Ma°amare Bikkoret,
published soon after
the appearance o f the first four tractates. Evaluations by con­
temporary and later scholars of the Rodkinson work have gen­
erally not been laudatory, the most complimentary being that
the best that can be said for this translation is that it is a “pi­
oneering effort.” Rodkinson continued the translation and
eventually 20 volumes appeared; 18 of these consisted of En­
glish translations of 27 tractates with the last two volumes being
a history of the Talmud and its development.
A second attempt to publish the Talmud in America was
made in 1914 when a one-volume edition appeared, issued by
the Yiddish newspaper
The MorningJournal.
The volume, which
is somewhat unwieldly, was to contain a general introduction
in English and translations of Pirke Aboth and the
Book ofJasher,
by Rabbi Edward B.N. Browne, published originally in 1876
and noted previously. These are all lacking in the copies we
have seen.
In 1904, Mayer Freeman published his first of many scholarly
volumes. Freeman arrived in New York in 1866 and was one
of the outstanding lay scholars in the community. He served
as president o f the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol and was involved
in the negotiations that brought Chief Rabbi Jacob Joseph to
New York. Freeman was a businessman but found time to pub­
lish five rabbinic books, two in Palestine and two at a later period
in America.
In 1915 the prolific Judah David Eisenstein published the
first of his
Otsar
volumes, entitled
Otsar Midrashim,
consisting
o f a collection o f 200 m inor midrashim. Since most o f
Eisenstein’s important writings fall into the interwar period, he
will be discussed in greater detail in a third section of this survey
to be published next year.
Mention should be made of several works which probably
fall into both the areas of Judische Wissenschaft and Torah
Scholarship. Max Leopold Margolis, the American biblical and