Page 234 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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spirit . . . . Jesus was not a Christian; he was a Jew.” He also
wrote: “Jesus Christ, to me, is the outstanding personality of
all time, all history, both as the Son o f God and the Son of
Asch, though suffering rejection and obstacles, had some de­
fenders .12 He cannot fairly be accused o f apostasy or
missionizing as he was by Chaim Lieberman’s diatribe. Asch also
did not spare the Christian world his bitter criticism of its own
inhuman behavior which led to the brutalities of Nazism.13
However, it has been suggested that his timing was off. Many
Jews o f his time (and even today) could not overlook the bitter
experiences of the Nazi era, which many of them traced back
historically to the original hatred of Jews expressed in the New
We turn now to some creations of poetry and prose. The
Hebrew poet Zalman Shneour (1887-1959) wrote a poem, “The
Testament o f Don Henriques,” which purports to be the last
utterance of a Jew being burned at the stake in Spain. He calls
upon his “ancient brother, Jesus,” not to put his trust in the
gentiles, for he, as a Jew, will be rejected and driven from their
midst. Their original paganism will reassert itself, and they will
denounce him as one who deceived them. Jesus, then, will join
the long march of the suffering people o f Israel. Addressing
11. Charles Madison,
Yiddish Literature, Its Scope and Major Writers
(New York:
Frederick Ungar, 1968; reprinted New York: Schocken, 1971), 247 -257 ;
Chaim Lieberman,
The Christianity of Scholem Asch
(New York, 1953), On
Cahan’s attack, see Ben Siegel,
The Controversial Scholem Asch
Green, Ohio: 1976), 143-145. Asch’s relevant books and dates are:
The Nazarene,
The Apostle,
What I Believe,
1941. The statement that Jesus is “the outstanding personality of all time”
was made in 1944 in an interview with Frank S. Mead o f
The Christian
see Siegel, 130, 257 , n.43.
12. Ben Siegel,
op. cit.,
150-151 ; S. Niger,
Sholem Asch, Zayn Leben, Zayne Verk
13. This theme is prominent in his
One Destiny
(1945). He believed, however,
that only a return to the “Judeo-Christian idea” will save the world, e.g.,
“We must all together help each other in finding the way back to God”
14. Jules Isaac,
The Teaching of Contempt,
trans. by Helen Weaver (New York,
Chicago and San Francisco: 1964).