Page 92 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

Basic HTML Version

JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
80
beginning. He contributed a sum of money to get it started in
1888; he actively solicited members for it afterwards and on occa-
sions urged upon it the publication of certain books, such as the
histories of Graetz and Dubnow. From the first, the Society plan-
ned a new translation of the Bible into English; but there were
difficulties in the way. When these were finally overcome and a
joint board of editors, representing the Publication Society and
the Central Conference of American Rabbis, was organized, Schiff
paid the entire cost of translating and publishing the book. He
was so profoundly proud of his part in the sacred work that he
insisted on being the host at the dinner party which marked the
completion of the task in 1917.
Out of his interest in the Bible translation grew another project
almost as important. Long before the work of translating the
Bible was done, Mr. Schiff, encouraged by Mrs. Schiff, offered a
substantial sum for the publication of Jewish classics on the same
pattern as the Latin and Greek classics for which the Loeb Fund
had been established by James Loeb, Schiff’s brother-in-law. More-
over, since this necessitated the setting of Hebrew type, it was
found desirable to set up a Hebrew press, towards which Mr.
Schiff contributed a large sum, representing 50% of the cost. The
seventeen beautiful volumes which appeared in the Schiff Classics
series before the fund was exhausted remain a fitting tribute to
the foresight and understanding of Jewish cultural needs typical
of the donor. Equally important in a sense has been the work on
behalf of Jewish literature and Semitic studies done by the Hebrew
Press.
Jacob H. Schiff, though his name has never graced the title
page of a book except the above-mentioned biography, walked in
the great tradition of his people, trying his best “ to increase Torah
and to exalt it.”