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June 19, 1964 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-06-19

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Mexican fewry's Indomitable Will
to Live Described in S. B. Liebman's
jeivish Guide to the Colonial Era

Seymour B. Liebman, a native
New Yorker who has, in addition
to his law degree, a master's in
Latin American history from the
University of the Americas, Mex-
ico City, is continuing his studies
as a resident in Mexico and is a
lecturer in history and Judaism at
University of Americas and Uni-
versidad Ibero-Americana.
He has done much research in
the history of the Jews in Mexico
and his latest important literary
product is the selected compila-
tion, much of the material in trans-
lation from original sources, "A
Guide to Jewish References in the
Mexican Colonial Era 1521-1821,"
published by University of Penn-
sylvania Press (3436 Walnut, Phil-
adelphia 4).
The introductory essay by the
author - compiler - translator is of
special merit. Liebman points out
at the outset that "while specula-
tion about Mayan descent from
the lost ten tribes of Israel have
caught the imagination and inter-
est of a number of historians,
archaeologists and anthropologists,
little attention has been given to
the history of Mexican Jewry." He
calls it particularly regrettable
because there is no lack for
He calls the story as recorded
in the documents of the Inqui-
sition "a history of devotion to
faith, of persecution, intrigue
and martyrology and contribu-
tions to the culture of Mexico."
Insofar as the record of the sur-
vival of Mexican Jewry is con-
cerned, Liebman writes that "plots,
intrigues and daring were the
basis." There were Jews who suf-
fered tortures not to implicate
other Jews during the Inquisition's
search for secretly practicing Jews,
while others implicated literally
hundreds of other Jews, he states
in his revealing essay. .
We learn about the thriving
Jewish community that lived in
Colonial Mexico. Liebman states:
"Jews resided in every part
of the country and were repre-
sented in every class and at
every level. These people de-
serve honorable notice in the
history both of Mexico and of
world Jewry."
A record of the available vol-
umes in which the story of Mexi-
can Jewry is chronicled is outlined
by the author. He explains the
methods he pursued in preparing
his bibliography, in the transla-
tions he resorted to, in finding
errors and "ignoble characteriza-
tions and aspersions on many of
the custom s and prayers of the
Jews" in some of the material he
had studied.
He states that "some Christian
authors of note, to whom these
aspects of Jewish life were mean-
ingless and unintelligible, found
`witchcraft and magic' or mimicry
of the Holy Communion in de-
voted prayers and mores which
antedate Christianity." Thus, Lieb-
man's is not merely a guide to
available record s on Mexican Jew-
ry but also a refutation of misrep-
resentations about Judaism.
He shows how Jews maintained
their own religious life, had con-
tacts with Jews in other lands and
that "they were Jews by choice,"
many having died for their faith.
He traces Mexican Jewry's history,
"The history of the Jews in
Mexico commences with the con-
quest by Cortez in 1521. There
were Jews in his company. One
of them, Hernando Alonso, has
the distinction of being the first
Jew burned at the stake of the
North American continent. This
took place in Mexico City in
1528. From 1502 to 1802 decrees
were issued by the Spanish
Crown and the Papal authorities
prohibiting the entry of Moors
or Jews into the New World ..."
The process of migration which

kept bringing Jews to Mexico is
traced and Liebman shows that
Jews in Mexico were not isolated
from other communities and some
conducted ship trading in many
lands. Jews also left an etymologi-
cal imprint on Mexico, the author

The tabular form in which the
record of Jewish history in Mexico
is presented indicates the extent
to which the author had gone to
gather his material. His work in-
spires further study and as he in-
dicates in his introduction: "This
Guide is but the skeleton on which
there must be placed the flesh and
bones of the people Avh o had the
indomitable will to live as Jews."

'Wilson vs. Lenin'
Explains Political
Origins of 1917-18

An important chapter in world
history that preceded the serious
East-West conflicts is recorded in
the World Publishing Co. (2231
W. 110th, Cleveland 2) Meridian
paperback "Wilson vs. Lenin —
Political Origins of the New Di-
plomacy 1917-1918" by Arno J.

Originally using the subtitle for
the book's title, the author decided
to use the heading that appeared
in the first edition of the work,
issued by Yale University Press
in 1959, over the epilogue, as
the basic title.
The history of the entire ear of
the first world conflict, the people
of that period and their attitudes,
the personalities in Russia and
among the Allies, are under thor-
ough review in this valuable paper-
Wilson's dramatic move in the
formation of the League of Na-
tions, the struggles for domination
among the revolutionary forces,
the temporary triumphs of Clem-
enceau over both Wilson and
Lenin at the Peace Conference,
are delineated as part of the his-
torical significance of the events
that resulted from the . great
struggle of that time. About the
forces of Revolution that emerged
at that time, Mayer wrote:
"Under Lenin's resolute guid-
ance these forces of Revolution
belligerently proclaimed that the
existing capitalist governments
were incapable of concluding a
democratic peace. According to
the Maximalists a nonpredatory
peace would be possible only after
the proletarian revolution had
been victorious in the major cap-
italist countries. This revolution
was expected to gain much from
the war's legacy of misery and un-
rest, and the nascent Communist
parties stood ready to intensify
and profit from the prevailing
political instability as a first step
in the total transformation of
European society, both national
and international. Lenin's immed-
iate aim was distructive: class
war in preparation for the transi-
tional dictatorship of the prole-
tariat. However, his ultimate ob-
jective of the classless society in
a warless world had the same
hopeful and utopian quality as
Wilson's search for a peaceful
racycommunity of sovereign dem-
ocratic nations of unequal power."
How Woodrow Wilson's vision
had its temporary effect on So-
cialists and others and aroused the
hopes for peace is discribed at
length in this effective work
which, at the same time, indicates
the counter-effects of the revolu-
tionary Leninist appeals. In rela-
tion to the current struggle,
Mayer's "Wilson vs. Lenin" is a
very valuable part of the litera-
ture on the history of World
War I.

Friday, June 19, 1964

`Fool—Be Still', Fannie Hurst's Puzzling New Novel

In addition to her new novel,
"Fool Be Still," recently issued
by Doubleday, Fannie Hurst
had written 16 other novels, an
a group of
books with
contents and a
number of
short stories.
Many of her
works, a 1 1
uniquel y
charming are Fannie Hurst
based on themes that have
aroused discussion. Her newest
work again may be the cause of
perplexing viewpoints.
In "Fool—Be Still," the hero-
ine, who lived well with her
husband but quite evidently did
not love him — she respected
and honored him—was search-
ing for adventure when she be-
gan to take dancing lessons. She
fell in love with the dancing
masters, had an affair with him,
then was jilted by him. But she
never forgot him.

After her husband's death,
she felt the obligation of giving
the best care to her son. Yet
she continued the affair with

the dancing teacher. The son
died when a stone was hurled at
him from a rooftop by a boy
who was dared by others to
throw stones. Urged to do so by
social workers, the mother
adopted the boy who killed her

After her husband's death,
this woman took in as a roomer
an elderly man who befriended
the son as well as the mother.
He left before the boy's death
and was shocked years later to
learn about the killer's adop-
tion. When he returned, a busi-
ness relationship was formed by
his son
a man younger than
the heroine — and her for the
manufacture of cosmetics the
woman had perfected. She be-
came wealthy, and in the bar-
gain, the young man fell in love
with her. They were about to be
married, but she met the danc-
ing master again. He was
crippled, yet she abandoned the
sincere and serious young man
for her old love.
Puzzling? Indeed, it is. "Fool
—Be Still' is a novel in the
typical Fannie Hurst style. It
reads well, holds the reader's
attention throughout, yet it is
puzzling: how could a woman
adopt a boy who killed her son,


and how could she possibly love
a repulsive self-seeker? Perhaps
that explains the title of the
novel which Miss Hurst took
from Byron's:
Why did she love him?
Curious fool—be still.
Is human love the growth
of human will?

2nd Arab Summit in Fall

CAIRO — Arab heads of state
will hold their second meeting in
Alexandria Sept. 5, it was reported
in Cairo. They last met for a "sum-
mit conference" in January.

"It is not so much for its beauty
that the forest makes a claim upon
men's hearts, as for that subtle
something, that quality of the air,
that emanation from the old trees.
that so wonderfully changes and re-
news a weary spirit." —Robert
Louis Stevenson.

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