Page 24 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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basic premise of the Reconstructionist Movement is that Judaism
is not merely a religion, but a religious civilization.” The subject
of the book, always a matter of concern, becomes increasingly so
in view of the new challenge to American Jewry by the establish-
ment of the state of Israel. It is necessary now, as never before,
to consider new directions for American Jewish life and a new
approach to the relationship and responsibility of American Jewry
toward Israel. Dr. Kaplan is primarily concerned with the survi-
val of the Jews and their heritage. He believes that the Jews
should keep their identity as a separate group, while justifying
this by their contribution of knowledge and leadership to the
whole of society and especially by participation in social move-
ments that seek ample freedom, stricter justice and better co-
operation among men and nations. His insistence upon the
reinterpretation of values is understandable and not without
merit. Like all reform movements in Judaism, Reconstructionism,
too, maintains that new appraisals and changes are necessary and
unimpeachable in Jewish life.
Jewish community life in America
by Ben M. Edidin, illustrated
by William Chollik (N. Y., Hebrew Publishing Co., ’47) presents,
in simple language, information on the manifold activities of
various national and local Jewish organizations and their effect
upon the survival of Jewish life everywhere. Helpful is the
community directory of Greater New York
, a guide to central or-
ganizations and institutions — relief, welfare, religious, cultural,
educational and other leading agencies, edited by Reuben Fink
and Bernard G. Richards (N. Y., The Jewish Information Bureau,
’47). A useful compilation of facts, information and general
guidance on the possibilities and opportunities for careers in “the
Jewish field” is
Careers in Jewish communal service
by Seymour
M. Blumenthal and Robert Shosteck, with an introduction by
Max F. Baer (Washington, D. C., B’nai B’rith Vocational Service
Bureau, ’47).
The price of liberty
; a history of the American Jewish Committee
by Nathan Schachner (N. Y., American Jewish Committee, ’48)
is a rapid survey of some of the activities of one of the leading
organizations in American Jewry. Though written by a competent
historian the work presents a rather poor history of an organization
that has much to tell which this work does not reveal. At best,
the book is more of a survey of some of its special achievements
than an adequate appraisal of the role it played in Jewish life. A
positive role is certainly played by the National Jewish Welfare
Board. Its influence in Jewish communal life is wholesome and
constructive. It has contributed more than any other agency to
the rapidity with which Jewry in this country is assuming its