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Women – Wise and Other Wise

Mrs. Randolph Guggenheimer, Editor

In our gardens bloom red autumn flowers, the evenings already bring a chill that speaks of the turn of the year and the fall of the leaves, and it is time to leave the diversions of the idle summer season and to return to the duties and activities of our winter home. Among these activities literature occupies for most women a quite important place. Every bookseller as well as every writer knows that the approval or the disapproval of the feminine customer, the feminine audience, can make or mar a success. Women are the great readers, the most important members of the various book clubs and without them the book of the month, may its reviews be as favorable as possible, would fail to make its way.

And because that is so I should like today to invite my readers to join together during the coming winter in an informal book club, a Jewish book club. Not that I plan anything as audacious as actually printing and distributing each month a special book interesting to Jewish readers—although other religious groups do this and the Catholic book of the month club is a decided success—but I want you all to make a resolution to read one book each month that should be in some way connected with Jewish ideas and Jewish ideals.

It should not be difficult to find, within this given limitation, a most varied intellectual fare acceptable to the most finicky literary appetite. Think, for instance, of Daniel Deronda by George Elliot. Don’t tell me that this book is old-fashioned and dated. The modern world revaluates George Elliot’s fame and position; it begins to recognize again the undoubted genius of this great woman writer, to treasure her splendid passion for righteousness, and nowhere has this passion found more moving expression than in this book in which not only a Jew but Israel as a people is the hero. Or if I cannot tempt you to take up the weighty volumes of the English woman’s creation, how would it be if you were to look for a slim little book that is the most beautifully written volume on the Jewish faith that was ever penned. The name of this volume is “A Rabbi’s Impressions at Oberammergau” and its author the late Rabbi Krauskopf of Philadelphia. But if religion seems not quite to your taste how would history do? “Stranger Than Fiction” by Lewis Browne is a book to treasure by all those who are proud to belong to an ancient people with an age-old history of social and intellectual civilization. And if neither of these topics interest you and you prefer fiction to all other forms of literature, then you will find here, too, a rich choice of beautiful and moving tales dealing with Jewish life and Jewish characters. “Job” by Joseph Roth—what a tender, compassionate, moving book! How it must touch the heart of every reader, how it must doubly touch the heart of Jew and Jewess who see in Job the eternal tragedy of their people. Or, if you care more for American writers, how would it be to read that splendid saga of Jewish childhood and manhood entitled: “Hear Ye Sons” by Irving Fineman, in which a father retells for his American children the sorrows and the joys, the worldly tribulations and the spiritual satisfactions of a real Jew.

This is by no means a complete list of possible books, but it will suffice as a hint and lead you, perhaps, to do your own questing and adventuring. And if you find something that would interest the other members of our informal book club, do write in and tell us about it and let us share in your delight. But in any case, give some of your reading time this winter to books that have a true Jewish note. If you do this, you will keep fresh and vital the innermost springs of your racial consciousness.

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