Steeled by Adversity: Essays and Addresses on American Jewish Life

Steeled by Adversity: Essays and Addresses on American Jewish Life

Steeled by Adversity: Essays and Addresses on American Jewish Life

Steeled by Adversity: Essays and Addresses on American Jewish Life

Excerpt

It is with a sense of nostalgia that one looks back on essays and addresses written over a period of more than thirty years during one of the stormiest periods in human history. As expected, some more technical essays, like that referring to Palestine relief, required little reorientation. True, even that essay graphically illustrates the dramatic changes which have taken place in both the Palestinian and American communities in the century since the four visits of the three Palestinian messengers it describes. From small, often struggling communities living, so to speak, on the periphery of Jewish life, which was then concentrated in Europe and its Mediterranean extensions, the Jewries of Israel and the United States have gradually grown into focal centers carrying major responsibilities for the destiny of the whole Jewish people.

Yet a perusal of these essays and addresses also shows how little the world has changed in essence. Much of what agitates the minds of men, and particularly of youth today, of what appears "relevant" to our generation, in contrast to the alleged irrelevancies of the traditional lore, is in fact old hat. On closer examination some of the more basic and permanent ideas of the Renaissance man which led Columbus, his crew, and backers to discover America retain more of their freshness than last week's editorials in our daily papers. Most significantly, the pessimism pervading large segments of our society today appears far less justified when considered in the framework of long-range historic processes and in comparison with the earlier "ages of anxiety," surveyed in our introductory essay.

Unavoidably, nevertheless, in many significant details tempora . . .

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