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Advocates New Departure in Jewish History Writing

A radical revision of the methods of writing Jewish history is advocated in an interesting volume by Dr. S. Bernstein, well known Jewish writer and editor of “Dos Yiddishe Folk”, the official organ of the Zionist Organization of America, published this week in Hebrew by the Bloch Publishing Company.

The volume, entitled “Ba’chazon Ha’doroth” (Vision of Generations) comprises a number of essays and monographs on the life and work of the leading Jewish personalities from the fifteenth to the end of the nineteenth century.

The change which the author advocates would constitute a radical departure from the method employed by all Jewish historians. In the opinion of the author, the main tendency of the events which have stirred Jewish life was the relation between Palestine and the Jewish communities. A striking illustration of this tendency, which the author says is to be traced in the events when revaluated from this point of view, is to be found in the interpretation given by Dr. Bernstein to the well-known poem “L’Chah Dodi”, which is a part of the Friday evening services in both Askenazic and Sephardic synagogues. The author of “L’Chah Dodi”, Shlomo Alkaviz, was regarded by Jewish historians merely as a visionary and a Kaballist. Dr. Bernstein submits that Alkavi? was not only a Kaballist but a national leader, and his poem, which spread rapidly among the Jewish communities, was an expression of a revival of sentiment for the rebuilding of Palestine. It was composed, the author says, at a time when Don Joseph Nassi, the Duke of Naksos, obtained in the middle of the sixteenth century permission from the Turkish Sultan to rebuild Tiberias as a Jewish center and a strong national movement developed among the Jewish communities in Asia and in Europe. The poem “L’Chah Dodi” has thus become the hymn of this movement.

Dr. Bernstein also gives new interpretations to the life of Uriel Acosta. Sabattai Zevi, Joseph Delmedigo and others.

Dr. Bernstein, a pupil of Professor Noeldecke of Strassburg, graduated from the University of Berne. He obtained his doctorate on the basis of his dissertation on “King Nebuchadnezzar in Jewish and Arabic Folk-Lore”.

Oscar Chajes, for many years financial secretary of the I. L. Rice Progressive Chess Club and formerly its champion, died yesterday in Bellevue Hospital, age d54. A native of Galicia, Chajes had lived here since 1904. He won the Western chess championship in 1909 and the Manhattan Club title in 1918. He defeated Janowski in a match, 7 to 5. 10 drawn.

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