Page 185 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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BARZILAY / LEOPOLD ZUNZ
177
fill his writings and touch the depth of our souls. Indeed, even
in his day it still required great courage and moral strength
to tell the world in so bold and graphic a manner of all the
sufferings that the Jews were exposed to by what the present
Pope called their “younger” brothers.
RELIGIOUS DECLINE
Fateful developments were also taking place inside German
Jewry. The flight from the abused and degraded synagogue
to the victorious Church was intensifying. In view of a similar
situation that Zunz discovered in 15th century Jewish Spain and
present-day Germany, he thought it proper to to translate
Shlomo Al‘ami’s epistle “to his brethren.” That epistle read:
A beggar and a teacher became of equal importance among us.
No man o f means would allow his son to become a teacher or
a rabbi . . . There is almost no Sabbath anymore . . . The prayer
after the noon-meal is interrupted whenever a Christian ac­
quaintance enters the house. The daughters of rich homes cannot
[even] read Hebrew. As a matter of fact, almost nothing remained
of these families. Already in my youth everything was becoming
Roman-Catholic. The spacious dwellings, the expensive furni­
ture, the numerous festivities and parties, connected with plea­
sures o f all kinds . . . lessen the leisure, the wealth and the love
among the family members. [As a result] egoism and conceit are
on the rise, and the contempt for the fatherly law and the in­
difference toward the needs of Israel and its sacred things.
(Gesammelte Schriften
II, pp. 177-182)
Zunz’s loyalty to traditional Judaism found also other expres­
sions. He was full of bitterness and pain at the trumped up
vicious lies by the reactionary elements of the Catholic Church
in Damascus (1840). He mentioned the many refutations of the
blood libel by both Jews and Christians of the past. Sarcastically
he concluded by reminding his own brethren, “die Juden ,” “dass
der Tag noch gross ist, und es noch nicht Zeit ist schlafen zu
gehen” (Gen. 29:7). Little did he know then that such a time
“of schlafen zu gehen” would never come to German Jewry.
Strongly liberal, yet de facto almost Orthodox, was Zunz’s
attitude toward the fundamentals of the ceremonial law. As for
prayers, he was of the opinion that