In office, from the 'New' rather than the 'Old' World, indeed the first ordinand of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Joseph Herman Hertz moved among kings and grandees, ministering to two communities, different religiously, culturally and socially. One, an established 'West End' community, was assimilated and integrated; the other was a newer, larger, faster-growing, immigrant 'East End' community. He had to be a bridge between these two communities. Within a year of taking office, this American Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire was thrust into a world conflict that confronted him with tensions and challenges to his patriotism, his authority and his faith. Ultimately his period of office would be 'bracketed' by two world wars.
A Chief Rabbi at War
David Allen Harvey
Classical polytheism or “paganism” presented a challenge to the Philhellenes of the Enlightenment, who found it difficult to accept that the greatest minds of antiquity had been taken in by (vide Fontenelle) “a heap of chimeras, delusions, and absurdities.” Rejecting the claim that “paganism” was a deformation of the “natural religion” of the early Hebrew patriarchs, several Enlightenment thinkers developed theories of classical polytheism, presenting it as the apotheosis of the great kings and heroes of the first ages of man, a system of allegorical symbols that conveyed timeless truths, and the effort of a prescientific mentality to understand the hidden forces of nature. Although divergent in their interpretations of “paganism,” these theories converged by separating its origins from Judeo-Christian traditions and presenting religion as an essentially human creation. Thus, Enlightenment theories of classical mythology contributed to the emergence of the more cosmopolitan and tolerant spirit that characterized the age.
The Integration of Arabo-Islamic Culture in Pre-state Palestine
argued, resulted in the incorporation of Christian cartographic discourse into the national Hebrew discourse of the nation ( Ginsburg 2014 ). Christian discourse, however, was not the only influence on the Jewish imagination of pre-state Palestine. Jewish
ones, many of which are conducted in Yiddish. These forums offer direct discussions on daily events, criticisms of Extreme Orthodox leadership, and views on inner political issues, as well as an opportunity to observe the version of the Hebrew language
Shakespeare and the Jews
. Jewish engagement with Shakespeare goes back to the beginning of the Jewish Enlightenment in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when Hebrew authors in Central Europe first began looking to Shakespeare as a literary role model and
An Imaginary Tour through the Present and Past of Leo Baeck College Library
Annette M. Boeckler
Leo Baeck College Library is an international meeting place. It may happen that suddenly a rabbi from France or South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Russia or the United States pops into the main room of the library to look something up during the break in a meeting at the college or somewhere else in the Sternberg Centre for Judaism. It is here that Leo Baeck College Library is located in interim rooms since 1982, waiting to move into purpose-made library rooms. The international visitor is very likely to be one of the over 150 alumni from Leo Baeck College. He or she may have come to use the books or to donate some: for example the first Progressive Haggadah printed in Russia, the latest books by a rabbi in France, the latest book about Dutch Jewry, and others. The books of the library mirror the international flair of its users. The books are in German, English, Hebrew, French, Russian, Dutch and other languages and deal not only with the main areas of academic Jewish Studies or traditional Rabbinics, but with the history and present situation in all its diversity of Jewish congregations in all European countries, Israel and the United States.
'Det judiska högstadiet' at Vasa Real may be unique in the world. Its existence is important to ensure a dynamic, varied and tolerant Jewish community in Stockholm but also to show that we can integrate in a multicultural environment without losing our identity as Jews. This system started about twenty-five years ago as a trial project and has adapted to the changing demands of pupils' social and educational requirements throughout the years. The uniqueness is the fact that we have a unit within a state school structure. The Jewish classes study homogeneously most subjects; that is, secular subjects as well as Hebrew and Jewish Studies, but are integrated with non-Jewish pupils in mathematics, a third language and science. The concept of streaming in mathematics and integration in science classes was developed to create more natural areas of cooperation between pupils. The major challenge that we face is the governmental stance that religion cannot be enforced on pupils, while we endeavour to educate and provide strong Jewish identities. This article will focus on how much this stance affects the Jewish identity of the youth attending an integrated school environment as well as other factors that influence Jewish identities.
Having devoted an entire issue of the journal (and some overflow into the following one) to the current state of Yiddish, there was an obvious logic in attempting to do the same for the state of Ladino. But whereas the sound of Yiddish, albeit in a vulgarized form, is familiar, and access to texts and scholars working in the field is relatively easy, Ladino presents an entirely different set of problems. It has no obvious speakers to promote it today in Anglo-Saxon countries, and the subject belongs more to the realm of specialized studies. So the Editorial Board was delighted when Hilary Pomeroy agreed to help us in suggesting possible contributors. Hilary Pomeroy teaches courses on the culture and history of Sephardi Jewry in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London, and has chaired the British Conference on Judeo-Spanish Studies, an international scholarly resource, since 1995. Once the list began to come together, it became obvious that it needed particular expertise to edit the issue effectively, and Hilary generously accepted the invitation to take on this task.
Language and Culture among British Haredim
Simeon D. Baumel
The term haredi literally means ‘fearful’ with the reference being to fear of the Almighty. Appearing in the Bible in the phrase ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble [haredim] at his word’ (Isaiah 66:5), the haredim – along with the poor and the contrite in spirit – are those to whom the Lord will pay heed. Although the term is biblical, its contemporary use began only during the latter half of the twentieth century. Initially utilised by speakers of Hebrew to denote any Jew who was punctilious about his religious practice, the term gradually came to designate those Jews whose style of life, worldview, ethos and beliefs went beyond what many people seemed to understand by ‘Orthodox’. In English speaking countries the term ‘ultra-Orthodox’ served as a marker, but as it was foreign to the Jewish experience it did not precisely capture the essentials of the group it was meant to signify. Consequently, the term ‘haredi’ came into use (Heilman and Friedman 1991).
The Perils and Joys of Translation
From its very beginnings the character of Yiddish was marked by its role as translator and interpreter of religious texts. Although there were secular writings, they were not substantial until the nineteenth century. One hundred years ago the primary role of translation was to present the outside world to Yiddish-speaking Jews, and libraries were full of translations of the international classics. Today the main role is the reverse: translation from Yiddish to other languages to gain access to that lost Jewish world. Functional translation into Yiddish is still required, mainly for Hasidim/Haredim, for example in the field of health or (in Israel) civil defence. Yiddish has clearly influenced other languages spoken by Jews, where one finds Yiddish words or calques, particularly in Hebrew and English. The concept of 'postvernacular Yiddish' has arisen to describe the contemporary use of Yiddish by speakers of these other languages. Both in the past and the present, Yiddish has been represented stereotypically, and often as an essentially 'ludic' language. One of the functions of literary translation ought to be to combat these stereotypes and demonstrate the richness and flexibility of Yiddish, as of any other language.