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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
shuleha
from the Yiddish noun “shul,” twisting the meaning to
“her uncleanliness was in her synagogues.”13
Rosenzweig’s epigram was one of many satiric works by the
man who Israel Davidson described as “the cleverest and at the
same time most prolific of all American (Jewish) satirists.”14
Rosenzweig’s satires, published in Hebrew journals and the Yid­
dish press were widely read and appreciated. Weinberger’s
Jews
and Judaism in New York,
limited itself to a description of New
York’s varied
Orthodox
communities. He shied away from de­
scribing the “several new sects, the likes of which Europeans
cannot imagine, they being without parallel in any of the cities
and states of our native lands. But about these new sects in
Israel, our writers have already written enough; there is prac­
tically nothing new to say.”15
RELIGIOUS ‘SECTS’
Harkavy, in contrast, does have something to say about Con­
servative and Reform Jewish life — though his attitude towards
both groups is decidedly negative. Commenting on the
Song
o f Songs
5:11, “His head is as the most fine gold, his looks are
curled, and black as a raven,” Harkavy notes: “His head” —
this refers to the various sects in Israel. The first among them,
which we will refer to as “the head” is of finest gold, with righ­
teous followers who are modest as well. There is a second sect,
they are the “curls” that are on the fringe, like strands of hair
that shake this way and that for this sect goes this way and
that — it is half for the Lord and half for Azazel, for in some
matters they act like Jews, but in others they are corrupt. And
there is yet a third sect whose adherents are “black” as the raven,
— for they have corrupted their ways and make their actions
revolting. They no longer have the spark of Judaism in them.”16
In the above passage, as throughout his polemic, Harkavy
13. Noble, p. 85. For a recent essay on Jewish parodies see Z. Malachi, “Nine­
teenth Century American Jews in Hebrew Parody,” (Hebrew) in S. Nash
(ed.),
Migvan: Studies in Hebrew Literature in Honor of Jacob Kabakoff
(Lod,
1988).
14. Davidson, p. 108. For a discussion o f Rosenzweig’s work see J. Kabakoff,
Halutze ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ba-Amerikah
(Tel Aviv, 1967).
15. Weinberger/Sarna, p. 40.
16. Harkavy, p. 61.