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September 29, 1967 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1967-09-29

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A work of great historic merit
now is available in an English
translation. For the first time, the
famous "History of the Jews" by
Simon Dubnov is made available,


to English readers in the first of a
projected five-volume edition being
published by Thomas Yoseloff.
The first volume in this transla-
tion, by Dr. Moshe Spiegel, is
from the Russian Fourth Definitive
Revised Edition Vols. I and II.
In an introduction to the first
volume of the translated editions,
Prof. Oscar Handlin of Harvard
University makes this important

is significant that this great
work of historical scholarship,
now for the first time made
available in English, had to wait
so long for a translation into the
language spoken and understood
by almost half of the world's
Jews. Long after it had already
appeared in Hebrew, Yiddish,
German, Russian and Spanish,
this book was still not available
to the people of the United States
and the British Commonwealth.
The future was due, in part, to
the general neglect by American
Jews of their cultural heritage;
in part, also, it was a product
of the distance between their
perspective of life and that from
which Simon Dubnov wrote."


This accusation may or may not
be justified. American Jewry uti-
lized the history by Graetz and nu-
merous other histories that have
been published in this country in
the past three decades. The fact
remains that there was neglect in
assuring an English translation of
Dubnov's history and the short-
coming is now being offset by the
tremendous undertaking of produc-
ing the much-awaited English
translation of the Dubnov historic
Dubnov was murdered by the
Nazis in 1941 at the age of 81. His
three-volume "History of the Jews
in Russia and Poland" was pub-
lished by the Jewish Publication
Society of America.
The English translator, Dr. Spie-
gel, in a note to the first volume,
"Faced with the absorbing and
challenging task of translation, I
was soon caught up in the sweep
of this vast chronicle. Yelamme-
denu rabbenu ("let our master
teach us")—that phrase, an echo
from my own youthful days as a
student of the Talmud, re-echoed
with a new meaning to me as I
followed the master historian in
his exploration of the Jewish past.
Along tortuous paths, often half-
obliterated by time, he has traced
from their earliest beginnings a
people unlike any other—through
their wanderings, dissensions,
backslidings and resurgences,
through exiles and dispersions,
through pogroms and assimilation,
through recurrent agonies and re-
births. The Sanhedrin, the yesho-
vot, the Exilarchate, the Gaonim;
the Pharisees, and the Sadducees
pass in review. He examines the
internal discords that led to the
partition of the Kingdom into the
independent states of Israel and
Judah, and re-evokes the stirring
call of a nobler life by the prophets
Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Jere-
niiah. Events, temporal and spir-

itual, are made to live again: Jo-
hanan ben Zakai establishing at
Jabneh an academy to perpetuate
the heritage of a vanquished na-
tion after its conquest by the Ro-
mans; the revolt of Bar Kochba
against Hadrian; the work of
Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi, who coordi-
nated the Mishna; the cimmentary
of Rashi on the Old Testament and
the Talmus and of Maimonides in
'Guide to the Perplexed;' the
Golden Age of Spain, followed by
the Inquisition under Torquemada,
the Marranos; the effect of the
French and American revolutions
in easing the tribulations of the
Jews under the Czars, with the
pogroms, the Pale of Settlement,
and the proposed settlement of
the 'Jewish question' made by
Pobyedonostzev, head of the Rus-
sian church, which provided that
one-third of the Jews be permitted
to die off, one-third forced to mi-
grate, and the remaining third
forcibly converted to Christianity
—a premonition of the horrendous
destruction to follow under the
Nazi holocaust. Through all this,
the two millenia of the Am Olansi,
the eternal people, renewing their
strength again and again in the
pages of the Tora and the Talmud,
have carried the Ark of the Cove-

The reigns of the Kings, the
periods of David and Solomon, the
epoch of the Divided Kingdom, the
various dynasties are under full

Babylonian rule, the Kingdom of
Judah under Assyria, the Exile
and Persian supremacy, the Baby-
lonian Exile and the First Restora-
tion, the Second Restoration, the
Judaean Theocracy — these are
thoroughly annotated and the ap-
pendices will prove of immense
value to the students of Jewish

For Some e

of the
best buys
imprisoned in Egypt are guarded
by former Nazi SS and Gestapo men
on new
employed by President Nasser, it
was learned from Eastern Europe-
This Dubnov volume covers an sources.
the history of the Jews from the
Virtually the entire Jewish popu-
Macedonian conquest to the rise
of Egypt:including men and
of Christianity, the Ilasmonean lation
women, was rounded up in a police
uprising, the Maccabaean revolt "action" and jailed when the Six-
and the subsequent develop- Day War erupted in June. Many
ments, and the review of the of these people are still held in
internal life of Jews in Judea prisons and concentration camps.
and in the Diaspora of that time
Eastern European journalists
proceeds in the Dubnov style
of making history a sociological who recently left Cairo revealed
they had learned that the
and cultural study as well as an
Egyptian government was using
account of the actual events.
World War II Nazis as jailers and
block South of 7
Here we have authoritative his- interrogators. They are posing as
UN 34100
tory of the Herodian reign and the Egyptians.
panic of that time, as well as an
explanatory chapter on the Judean
spiritual life — the status of the
Learned Pharisees, the Reform of
the Oral Law, Hillel and his teach-
An important chapter deals with
the "World Diaspora" — Jews in
Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Egypt
and Cyrenaica — and the com-
mencement of European Diaspora.
New York Carpet has the finest
Here, too, literary creativity is

selection of smart area rugs on
analyzed and accounted for.

history who now are provided with
what many consider the most
authoritative and most evaluative
analysis of the history of our


Packer Pontiac

Everybody loves the

The period under the Romans,
the fall of Judea, the Diaspora in

the First Century CE, the rise of

The first volume, in the Eng- Christianity and the status of the
lish translation, covers the eras original Judeo - Christian commu-
from the beginning to early nity, Paul's preachings and the
Christianity. Dubnov's foreword schisms between Judaism and
to the "Definitive Edition in the Christianity conclude this great
Original Russian," dated in work.
Appendices dealing with histor-
Riga, Latvia, Dec. 31, 1938, de-
clared: "In publishing this work ical data, valuable explanatory
references to sources, com-
outside of the country for which
it was originally intended, I am bine to add to the glory of this
significant historical achievement.
aware that there can be no place
English-reading Jews now will
for it there. In the Soviet Union
there is no possibility of free in- be provided with the text of the
vestigation in the realm of social great work which has been await-
sciences, least of all in the area ed for decades. There has been
of historiography. Of the great much talk about a translation of
Jewish center where I did the Dubnov's history. The attainment
greater part of my writing, there of this dream is a matter of
now remain only fragments historical significance.
splintered from world Jewry.
And if, finally, in the declining
years of my life I have now
resolved to reissue, in the Rus-
sian original, this work which
has already become familiar
through translations into other
languages, I am impelled to do
so by the desire to give it, in
the language of its origin, a final
form which may serve as the
basis for any further editions in
various languages and at the
same time satisfy the demands
of those Jewish emigrants in
various countries who are still
readers of Russian. Not unmixed
with this desire is a faint hope
that at some time the native
land which I have forsaken will
return to the sphere of free
democracies, and that the Jew-
ish centers within it will exper-
ience a rebirth. However. I can-
not console myself with the illu-
sion that I myself will live to
see that happy time."
In the 900-page first volume of

the new translation are included
Dubnov's essays on "The Socio-
logical Method of Jewish Historiog-
raphy" and "Periodicity and Sys-
tem of Hegemonies," as well as
the history of this history. The first
volume commences with the ori-
gins of the people of Israel-20th
to 11th centuries BCE. It continues
with the Babylonian and Egyptian
periods, with the conquest of
Canaan and the era of the Judges,
and it deals with the earliest
sources of the Israelite Culture.

6—Friday, September 29, 1967

Is Nasser Using
Ex-Nazis to Guard
Jewish Prisoners?

Dubnov's Significant 'History of the Jews'
Finally Begins to Appear in English Texts

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