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September 04, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-09-04

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Emma Lazarus

Continued from Page 2

very strange "brethren!'
Moreover, Lazarus, in her
exposition of the meaning and
importance of the concept of
Jewish nationality, applied the
concept by advocating
repeatedly that the persecuted
Jews of Europe be encouraged
to emigrate to Palestine, there to
rebuild their national home
Writing fourteen years before
Herzl published The Jewish
State in 1896, Emma Lazarus
was a forerunner of Zionism in
its loosest sense. As Louis Harap
has pointed out, she did not
share the later theory of the
inevitability of anti-Semitism or
the concept of "ingathering of
exiles!' For her, Palestine was
seen as a possible "secure
asylum" for oppressed Jews, but
certainly not for United States
Jews, for "Today, wherever we
are free, we are at home"
Yet even this pre-Herzlian
advocacy of the restoration to
Palestine of persecuted Jews
and the reconstitution there of
the Jewish nationality provoked
severe criticism, especially
when she presented it to the
general public, as she did in her
article "The Jewish Problem," in
the Century in February 1883
(advance extracts of which were
published in the American
Hebrew when she failed to meet
her deadline for the next
installment in her series of

A great American personality has
her name recorded for all time with her
New Colossus that is an inspiration
from Liberty Island reverberating
throughout the land. Her essays invite
indelible recording in Jewish history.
The Schappes-edited book makes both

Zamenhof's Esperanto:
A Centennial

Numerous attempts have been
made through the centuries to
overcome language difficulties by
formulating a single international
language acceptable to all. Only one
such effort succeeded. A few days ago
the celebrants of the centennial of that
language met in Warsaw to acclaim the
triumph of the language — Esperanto.
A fascinating history emerges in the
gathering last month of 6,000 jubilants
in Warsaw. In addition to acclaiming
their linguistic triumph under the
Esperanto name, the celebrants called
attention to the fame of the Esperanto
creator — Ludwik Lazar Zamenhof.
It is well to acknowledge that
mockery greeted Dr. Zamenhof at the
outset. He soon began to enroll
adherents. Linguists and scientists soon
began to acclaim his ideal. Soon
translations of the Bible and popular
selections from Russian and German
literature appeared in Esperanto.
That's how Zamenhof aimed to prove
Esperanto could become an
international literary tongue. The first

40 FRIDAY, 5EP9, 4, :1987

Esperanto International Congress was Numerous Esperanto clubs in these outlet. Therefore he participated in the
held in France in 1905. The sixth countries include professionals and formation of the Overseas News Agen-
Esperanto Congress was held in
academicians in all walks of life.
cy. From it circulated the reports and
Washington in 1910, when Zamenhof
Such is the triumph of what was commentaries of the most distinguish-
delivered a series of lectures in
ed authors.
considered either a dream or a
It was as a leader in the ranks of the
An Esperanto postage stamp was linguistic confusion. Ludwik ONA that he helped in the assembling
issued in Hungary in honor of Zamenhof the linguist, Jewish of the most distinguished foreign cor-
Zamenhof and Esperanto. In scholar and Zionist attained a great respondents in the Free World. He was
Zamenhof's honor two statues were
goal. A world movement marks the a leader among them. A listing of their
erected in Poland — one in Warsaw in triumph of his vision.
names would be a veritable en-
1928 and another in Bialystok in 1934.
cyclopedia of journalistic genius.
- It is necessary also to emphasize
His notable essays of the recent
that Dr. Zamenhof had dedicated
decade, published in daily newspapers,
Jewish affiliations, as a member of the 50 Years A Major
utilized for their great value in the
Choveve Zion, having pioneered in the
Jewish press, did much to elevate the
formation of this youth movement, and
of Israel among the democratic
as the author of a pamphlet,
"Hilelismus," deigning Judaism as a lined most important chapters in the forces in the world. They were among
the most illuminating commentaries on
history of American journalism.
philOsophy of humanism.
These chapters comprise volumes world conditions and on the problems
Basic Zamenhof biographical facts
are presented in the Encyclopedia covering the happenings of some plea- that irked the people of this nation.
sant years and the challenging ones in
It is not easy to write a tribute to
a friend in a time of deep
Zamenhof, Ludwik Lazar
and Jewish history.
sadness. The writing of it becomes a
(1859-1917), Polish philologist
Victor Bienstock was a creative matter of deep pride in the close
and creator of Esperanto. Born
man in our profession. He directed the association I had for nearly half a cen-
in Bialystok, Zamenhof studied
destinies of the Jewish Telegraphic tury with so eminent a journalist. Mine
medicine and specialized in
during the critical years of was an association with him in JTA, in
ophthalmology. He acquired his
II, in an era that was mar- ONA, in the current concluding decade
interest in philology from his
as well as in the of his professional gifts that have helped
father who was a language
redemption. create dignity in the American and
In the critical years preceding, dur- Jewish experiences. The blessings of his
For several years Zamenhof
ing and in the aftermath of the World memory will always be an inspiration.
engaged in research work in the
War, he was among those who knew the I'll always remember that he not only
Yiddish language and began to
need for interpretive journalism, for by-lined journalistically but always in
write a Yiddish grammar, which
news coverage that needed a courageous friendship.
was not completed.
From his youth he had
contemplated the idea of
creating a simple international
language which would facilitate
and advance relations and
mutual understanding between
nations. In 1878, he completed
the writing of the first pamphlet
which contained the
fundamentals of the new
language. It contained only 900
root words and a grammar with
16 rules. It was published in 1887
under the title Lingvo
Language"). Zamenhof signed it
with the pseudonym "Doktoro
Esperanto" ("Dr. Hopeful"),
hence the name of the language.
We are indebted to a Christian
Science Monitor correspondent, Cynthia
N. Wenz, for her evaluative analysis of
the Esperanto history and the
centennial anniversary celebration. She
points out that the "building block
structure of ESperanto" makes it easy
to acquire a vocabulary. She notes that
"from a base of 16,000 roots taken from
many languages, some 150,000 words
can be formed. Sixteen basic grammar
rules without exceptions and each of the
28 letters of the alphabet have only one
The lack of instructors for native
teachers is indicated as an impediment
to the growth of Esperanto. Besides, it
is admitted, English, French and
Spanish already have attained
dominant usage.
Cynthia Wenz points out in her
article on the centennial of Esperanto
that hundreds of thousands are now
adherents of the language and the
Universal Esperanto Association in
1986 reached a record membership list Civil rights leader, the late Bayard Rustin, center, meets with Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg to discuss
of 40,589 representing 104 countries. understanding and cooperation between blacks and Jews.

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