Jewish Thought as a Factor in Civilization

Jewish Thought as a Factor in Civilization

Jewish Thought as a Factor in Civilization

Jewish Thought as a Factor in Civilization

Excerpt

The series to which this booklet belongs has, as its subject, the race question as seen from the standpoint of the main currents of contemporary thought. It will, in particular, comprise studies defining the attitude of the great world religious towards the physical differences by which humanity is characterized.

In such a survey, the attitude of Judaism cannot be overlooked. It would have been logical to include in this series a booklet entitled Judaism and the Race Question. This, following the example set in the other publications, would have contained an analysis of the religious and philosophical texts that have guided Israel in its relations with other ethnic groups. Such a subject seemed indicated, if only because of the attacks levelled by many anti-Semites against so-called "Jewish racism".

But it was felt that the thesis of "Jewish racism" should not be combated in the setting of anti-Semitic dialectics. Professor Léon Roth's booklet, therefore, does not deal with race. It is none the less a valuable contribution at a time when men's minds are troubled by modern manifestations of "racism". In asking the author to give a short description of Judaism's specific contribution to world civilization, we had a double aim in view: firstly, to refute the accusation of "racism" so often levelled against the Jews, by underlining what, in Judaism, is the very negation of racial exclucivism; and secondly, to record the extent of the debt humanity owes to Judaism.

It is not the least of the injustices committed by the West towards the Jews that it has forgotten their contribution to that intellectual and moral heritage of mankind which we regard as the very essence of our civilization. We cannot of course expect from peoples the feelings of gratitude that are, in certain circumstances, due from individuals; but the idea of "debt" has, all the same, played its part in history. Yet the same . . .

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