Page 332 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Jewish Literary
Thisyear we remember
two outstanding
early modern Jewish writers: Moses Zacuto and Moses Hayyim
Luzzatto, the former living in the 17th century and the latter in the
18th century, at the end of what we usually describe as the “Jewish
Middle Ages.” Both were Cabbalists, but at the same time their
creative writings included the more modern genres. Zacuto is
credited with writing the first drama, a biblical play, in Hebrew;
Luzzatto’s accomplishments in poetry have led some to call him
the first poet in modern Hebrew literature.
Marcus Herz and Saul Ascher are representatives of the German
Haskalah that ushered in modern expressions of Judaism.An early
Anglo-Jewish writer who could take advantage of the new freedom
was Grace Aguilar who wrote works popular with both Jewish and
general audiences. Among 19th century scholars Seligmann Baer
ought to be singled out for his meticulous edition as founds in his
editions of the Siddur and the Massora.
As modern Jewish studies have become more specialized, the
work of Gershom Scholem critically examined Cabalistic litera­
ture, thus bringing this branch of Jewish study into its own on an
equal footing alongside the more traditional analysis of Talmud
andMidrash. Another scholar remembered this year is Hanokh Al-
beck, who made his name in both the fields of Talmud and Mi­
drash. Raphael Patai was a prolific writer on Jewish folklore.
Modern Jewish life is indebted to the Zionist movement as we
observe the centenary of the first Zionist Congress. This move­