Page 194 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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eration would stage public protests against the strangely similar
“brown lung” disease that struck poorly-paid workers in Southern
mill towns.
On the positive side, Friedenwald also wrote about Portuguese-
Jewish medical pioneers in the East Indies. Reading his descrip­
tions of the plant-drugs that the adventurous Garcia de Orga
brought back to the Old World in the 1400s, we can remember
those of the Seventies generation, Jews and Gentiles, who also set
sail, in search of other “plant-drugs” from India. Still, Frieden­
wald’s essay emphasized the persecution endured by Orga’s unfor­
tunate family, left in Spain and Portugal. We learn, through
Friedenwald, that the Inquisition that devastated Iberia was as
deadly in Catholic colonies in India and Brazil as it was in the Old
In the end, what do all these cross-connections mean? To a die­
hard Jungian, they simply point to synchronicity, to some kind of
psychic coincidence. But that would be far too simple, and over­
arching, an explanation. To me, such coincidences point to some­
thing far deeper. The question is, does it say something about
Friedenwald’s contribution to Jewish history, to medical history,
to history across the board? Does it remind us of the perpetual im­
portance of the study of the past to the understanding of the
present? Or perhaps this speaks of the way that the Jewish experi­
ence parallels other world events, and perhaps even foreshadows
I suppose it says something about all of these things. But, most­
ly, it says something about the timelessness that typifies Harry
Friedenwald’s work, about the way that his discussions transcend
the specifics of the situation, and about why this tribute to Frieden­
wald was commissioned in the first place.
And, of course, this is a reminder of the many ways that Jewish
history endures. Often enough, for the People of the Book, it
comes in the form of a book standing on the shelf, waiting patiently
to be read and reinterpreted and rediscovered by an endless succes­
sion of future generations.