Page 114 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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J EW I S H BOOK A N N U A L
108
of his life by literary and practical activities to the promotion
of his idea, the regeneration of the Jewish people. He wrote arti-
cles and long essays on his favorite theme. Of these “ Israel’s
Mission in the History of Humanity,” published in the
Archives
Israelites
, is the longest and most typical. In it he dwelt again
and again on the idea that the Jewish mission to arouse humanity
to justice, peace, and real social life must be carried out by na-
tional regeneration in their own land. Otherwise, he saw no reason
for their further existence. He also outlined therein his plan for
regeneration in somewhat greater detail. Palestine must become
a spiritual center for the Jewish people. Colonization could begin
with the oppressed Jews of Eastern Europe, and later political
independence would come. Numbers did not matter; Judaism
was never represented by a numerous people.
Hess did not disparage any activity which could in in any way
help to promote his idea. He allied himself with the modest
Palestine colonization movement started at the time by Rabbi
Zebi Hirsh Kalisher and his friends. He endeavored to influence
Wilhelm Rothschild of Frankfurt in favor of the movement and
even prepared a memorandum on the colonization of Palestine to
be presented to the Sultan. When these efforts failed, he concen-
trated on exerting influence on the
Alliance Israelite Universelle
in favor of the movement. Simultaneously he contributed essays
to the
Monatschrijt
and other Jewish scientific publications and
helped to establish in Paris the
Societe Scientifique et Literaire
Israelite.
When this society chose to translate the third volume
of Graetz’
Geschichte
into French and issue it as its first publica-
tion, Hess was the translator. It was issued under the title
Sinai
and Golgotha.
I t is more than a translation, in reality, a reworked
book. Hess emphasized in his elaboration of the material the
unity of Jewish nationalism and how necessary a knowledge of
ancient Judaism was for the understanding of real Christianity,
for the Christianity of the Gospels was overlaid with ideas of
paganism. Only after freeing Christianity from these elements
would Judaism be able to influence Christian nations. Graetz
saw the changes in the translation and approved of them.
That
Rome and Jerusalem
was destined to achieve greater influ-
ence in the near future and that many of Hess’ ideas became a
reality, the events of our days testify. We may hope that his
idea of ideas, the Jewish mission, will also be realized in due time.