the jewish publication society of america
The Friedenwald Co.
The following essays were delivered during the last ten years, in the form of addresses, before the largest associations in the great cities of Germany. Each one is a dear and precious possession to me. As I once more pass them in review, reminiscences fill my mind of solemn occasions and impressive scenes, of excellent men and charming women. I feel as though I were sending the best beloved children of my fancy out into the world, and sadness seizes me when I realize that they no longer belong to me alone—that they have become the property of strangers. The living word falling upon the ear of the listener is one thing; quite another the word staring from the cold, printed page. Will my thoughts be accorded the same friendly welcome that greeted them when first they were uttered?
I venture to hope that they may be kindly received; for these addresses were born of devoted love to Judaism. The consciousness that Israel is charged with a great historical mission, not yet accomplished, ushered them into existence. Truth and sincerity stood sponsor to every word. Is it presumptuous, then, to hope that they may find favor in the New World? Brethren of my faith live there as here; our ancient watchword, "Sh'ma Yisrael," resounds in their synagogues as in ours; the old blood-stained flag, with its sublime inscription, "The Lord is my banner!" floats over them; and Jewish hearts in America are loyal like ours, and sustained by steadfast faith in the Messianic time when our hopes and ideals, our aims and dreams, will be realized. There is but one Judaism the world over, by the Jordan and the Tagus as by the Vistula and the Mississippi. God bless and protect it, and lead it to the goal of its glorious future!
To all Jewish hearts beyond the ocean, in free America, fraternal greetings!
|A Glance at Jewish Literature
|The Jew in the History of Civilization
|Women in Jewish Literature
|Jewish Troubadours and Minnesingers
|Humor and Love in Jewish Poetry
|The Jewish Stage
|The Jew's Quest in Africa
|A Jewish King in Poland
|Jewish Society in the Time of Mendelssohn
|Heinrich Heine and Judaism
|The Music of the Synagogue
A GLANCE AT JEWISH LITERATURE
In a well-known passage of the Romanzero, rebuking Jewish women for their ignorance of the magnificent golden age of their nation's poetry, Heine used unmeasured terms of condemnation. He was too severe, for the sources from which he drew his own information were of a purely scientific character, necessarily unintelligible to the ordinary reader. The first truly popular presentation of the whole of Jewish literature was made only a few years ago, and could not have existed in Heine's time, as the most valuable treasures of that literature, a veritable Hebrew Pompeii, have been unearthed from the mould and rubbish of the libraries within this century. Investigations of the history of Jewish literature have been possible, then, only during the last fifty years.
But in the course of this half-century, conscientious research has so actively been prosecuted that we can now gain at least a bird's-eye view of the whole course of our literature. Some stretches still lie in shadow, and it is not astonishing that eminent scholars continue to maintain that "there is no such thing as an organic history, a logical development, of the gigantic neo-Hebraic literature"; while such as are acquainted with the results of late research at best concede that Hebrew literature has been permitted to garner a "tender aftermath." Both verdicts are untrue and unfair. Jewish literature has developed organically, and in the course of its evolution it has had its spring-tide as well as its season of decay, this again followed by vigorous rejuvenescence.
Such opinions are part and parcel of