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More than a half-century of opinion and ideas. Still timeless.
November, 1945Back to TopAn Act of Affirmation
by Elliot Cohen
It is traditional to begin a new magazine with brave declarations. If we do not, we trust we shall be forgiven. We begin at a moment heavy with a sense of human destiny.
The Spiritual Reconstruction of European Jewry
by Salo Baron
Although the blackout is slowly lifting from the areas where once flourished the largest centers of Jewish life in Europe, only fragmentary reports concerning the survivors have filtered through to the outside world.
American Fuehrer in Dress Rehearsal
by James Rorty
Hitler has been off the scene less than a year, yet already it is difficult to believe that this flagrant little paranoid could have dominated the drama of Western civilization during its most critical modern period. For nearly a decade after World War I Hitler seemed to his contemporaries as ridiculous as a candidate for power as Joe McWilliams seemed in 1940 to the disgusted citizens who spat and walked away from his cheap “covered wagon” in Yorkville.
Next Steps After the Charter
by Percy Corbett
The current drive for human rights began to gather strength in the early days of World War II. It was allied with the drive for an international organization that would be powerful enough to stop war.
The Month in History
by Sidney Hertzberg
The Balance Sheet In the summer of 1945, history was closing old chapters with explosive finality and opening new ones with a flourish. Benito Mussolini was lynched, Adolf Hitler disappeared, Hirohito gave up: the greatest war in history came to an end. The most solemn effort to build a lasting peace began: The form of an international organization was put on paper. For the first time, in a major and highly industrialized nation, socialists won a clear majority and took full power peacefully. The simple Einsteinian concept—energy equals the mass times the square of the velocity of light—emerged from formula to the most revolutionary physical fact of all time. But the road to the new world was deeply rutted: The international organization masked a big power alliance.
A Civilization Within a Civilization?
by Mordecai Grossman
Can Jewish life in this country attain that vitality of function, that variety of content, that integrity and distinctiveness of pattern, and that degree of organization which would endow it with the character of a civilization? In the light of the opportunities and requirements of a democratic design for living, is it desirable that Jews mobilize and direct their energies to the end of creating a Jewish civilization? Obviously, the answer to these questions depends on what is meant by the term “Jewish civilization.” “Civilization,” even if not qualified by the adjective “Jewish,” has different meanings for different people.
The Decline of the Theater
by Louis Kronenberger
Another season is beginning on Broadway; shows are racing one another to town; playwrights' names, actors' names, producers' names are being flung about as synonyms for beauty and excitement.
A Prayer for Dew
by Paul Goodman
And the offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be a delight unto the Lord, as in days of old, as in ancient years. With this ending of the great Standing-prayer, the congregation sat down. It was Passover and a springtime thundershower was washing the windows of the synagogue, amid prolonged rumblings of thunder and many flashes of lightning.
The Statue of Liberty Finds Its Poet
by Hertha Pauli
"I am not able to write to order,” Miss Lazarus wrote to the ex-Secretary of State. He had requested a poetic contribution to the Statue of Liberty Pedestal Fund; the date was 1883, and the famous statue stood in a Parisian suburb, a baseless, soulless, forsaken-looking colossus finished by France and waiting for America to set up its promised foundation in New York harbor.
The British General Election
by George Orwell
London The Labor Party's victory was overwhelming. It has a clear majority of more than 150 seats over all other parties combined, while the Conservatives and their satellites have lost nearly 200 seats and the minor parties have been simply obliterated.
Cedars of Lebanon: XVI. On Being a Jewish Person
by Franz Rosenzweig
Cedars of Lebanon XVI On Being A Jewish Person by Franz Rosenzweig The state of the world today may force us to postpone many desirable things, not for a better day but for a better century.
From the American Scene: Portrait of a Chaplain
by Meyer Levin
On August 11, 1944, on a road somewhere near Vire, France, a fragmentation bomb dropped from a German plane exploded beside Chaplain Rabbi Irving Tepper of the 60th Infantry Regiment.
The Study of Man
by Nathan Glazer
Social scientists can no longer be reproached for busying themselves with theoretical issues while ignoring the major problems confronting mankind.
Poems, by A. M. Klein
by Randall Jarrell
These are not Psalms Poems. by A. M. Klein. Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1944. 82 pp. $2.00. Mr. Klein's poems are academic, semi-religious verse about (1) representative experiences of the moderately religious life and (2) the persecution of the Jews during the present quantitatively unique intensification of the Diaspora.
Vohin Gehen Mir, by Jacob Lestchinsky
by Israel Knox
Pessimism With A Purpose Vohin Gehen Mir? (“Where Are We Going? Jewish Migration, Past and Present.”) by Jacob Lestchinsky. New York, Jewish National Workers' Alliance, 1944.
The Bible and the Common Reader, by Mary Ellen Chase
by Theodor Gaster
Better than King James The Bible and the Common Reader. by Mary Ellen Chase. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1944. 315 pp. $2.50. The object of this book is to present the Bible, considered as literature, to the “common reader.” The author believes that the true character of the scriptural writings can be seized even through the medium of translation, provided that the translation in question is the so-called Authorized or King James Version, the delicate sensitivity of which she regards as truer to the spirit of the original than the more pedantic and literary accuracy of recent scholarly renderings. The book is divided into three parts.
The Tables of the Law, by Thomas Mann
by Harold Rosenberg
The Creation of an Identity The Tables of the Law. by Thomas Mann. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1945. 63 pp. $2.50. Joseph was the last of the Fathers, and after his time the children of Israel were no longer a family of epic individuals but a nation, a mass. Now, while an individual forms himself by imitating in his own way the actions and moods of other individuals, real or partly real or wholly imagined, a mass is given form by the acknowledgment of universals and obedience to laws. Hence in his Joseph series, Mann re-created the pattern of God-actions begun by Abraham and extended to completion out of the mists of memory by Joseph; he showed how the ironic glad-sorry spirit of the Fathers, simultaneously at home on the earth of practical dealings and in the eternal rounds of divine destiny, triumphed over the rigid hieratic tomb culture of the Land of the Pharaohs. But in The Tables Of The Law Mann's subject has changed from that of a culture-form in a state of development by individuals to the problem of imposing a Code on the decadent procession of slaves herded forth from Egypt on the night of tears and confusion.
Felix Mendelssohn: Letters, edited by G. Selden-Goth
by Kurt List
The Question Dodged Felix Mendelssohn: Letters. by G. Selden-Goth. New York, Pantheon Books Inc., 1945. 373 pp. $2.50. Felix Mendelssohn's music in recent years has assumed an importance far beyond its inherent value.
The Moral Conquest of Germany, by Emil Ludwig
by Alfred Werner
Racialism in Reverse The Moral Conquest of Germany. by Emil Ludwig. Garden City, Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1945. 183 pp. $2.00. The first ninety-six pages of this book ought to be studied carefully.
Some of These Days, by Sophie Tucker
by Mary McCarthy
Last of the Red-Hot Mammas Some of These Days. by Sophie Tucker. Garden City, Doubleday, Doran and Co., 1945. 309 pp. $2.50. For the title of her autobiography, Sophie Tucker takes the name of her theme song, a phrase of promise and improbable hope, both melancholy and buoyant.
December, 1945Back to TopThe Crisis of the Individual: Will Civilization Survive Technics?
by Reinhold Niebuhr
The editors of COMMENTARY recently invited a number of the leading men of thought in America and Europe to address themselves to a subject which many consider the basic issue of our times.
Must the Jews Quit Europe?
by Zachariah Shuster
Out of the question “What next?” posed by the last years of the Third Reich and the events following its collapse, has been born the slogan: “Exodus from Europe!” With many leaders and writers the call for a latter-day migration has become not only an emergency directive in the present crisis, but a watchword for all Jewish social and political thought and action in the postwar period.
Nobel's Prizes and the Atom Bomb
by Hertha Pauli
Peace by the threat of scientific destruction is a fairly new idea, but older than H. G. Wells who got the credit for it in the recent editorials.
George Gershwin's Music
by Kurt List
Much has been written about George Gershwin; but almost nothing about his music. Version after version of his life appears, and in each he is seen merely as a prototype of the American success story.
Encounter in Edinburgh
by Alfred Kazin
All this began one Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh, some weeks after the war ended in Europe, when I walked out to Holyrood Park. It was a gloomy Scottish day, heavy with impending rain; except for a few workmen playing bowls on a lawn and some sheep grazing up the hills that.look out to the Firth of Forth, there was no one in sight.
The Truth About Reconstructionism
by Mordecai Kaplan
Both the philosophy and program of reconstructionism have evidently proved challenging. However, the considerable recent discussion of the meaning of Reconstructionism has not been as clarifying as one might have hoped.
Pillar of Salt
by Louis Berg
My Aunt Pia, my father's sister, died at the age of seventy-eight, surviving her husband by twenty years. Three weeks before her death she ordered a shroud, and when it arrived quarreled vehemently with the shroud-maker over the price and the quality of the linen. “I wouldn't be found dead in that rag,” we used to quote her as saying, and doubtless she did say something to that effect.
The Moyne Case: A Tragic History
by Gerold Frank
Eliahu Hakim and Eliahu Bet-Zouri are figures in a tragic history. The two Jewish youths—the one 18, the other 22—who assassinated Lord Moyne, British Minister Resident in Cairo last autumn, are dead.
Cedars of Lebanon: XVII. The Kingdom of God
by Hermann Cohen
Does the concept [of social ethics] not contain a redundancy? Can there ever be a morality that does not rest on the social relations of human life and constantly refer back to them? What advantage can we possibly discover in our religion, what special feature, which will help us throw light on our Jewish ethics from the social point of view? .
From the American Scene: Portrait of a Labor Leader
by Ben Seligman
The strenuous life does not seem to have left its mark on David Gordin. A Webster panatella, half of which he chews rather than smokes, punctuates his hard, yet not unpleasant features.
The Wisdom of Israel, edited by Lewis Browne
by Erich Kahler
Only Half the Story The Wisdom Of Israel. by Lewis Browne. New York, Random House, 1945: 748 pp. $3.95. Authors and the public love anthologies, and the market is flooded with them year in and year out.
Jews in the Post-War World, by Max Gottschalk and Abraham G. Duker
by Koppel Pinson
An Objective Postwar Guide Jews in the Post-War World. by Max Gottschalk and Abraham G. Duker. New York, The Dryden Press, 1945. 224 pp.
Marc Chagall, edited with an introduction by Lionello Venturi
by Milton Klonshy
Chagall's Achievement Marc Chagall. by Lionello Venturi. New York, Pierre Matisse Editions, 1945. $10.00. Marc Chagall has been associated so intimately with the culture of Eastern Jewry that his work can be regarded by the West as one of the chief testaments and memorials of that culture.
The Neurologist's Point of View, by I. S. Wechsler
by Paul Goodman
The Value of Neurosis The Neurologist's Point of View: Essays on Psychiatric and other Subjects. by I.S. Wechsler, M.D. New York, L.B. Fischer,1945.
Crossroads of Two Continents, by Feliks Gross
by Hannah Arendt
Power Politics Triumphs Crossroads of Two Continents: A Democratic Federation of Eastcentral Europe. by Feliks Gross. New York, Columbia University Press, 1945. 162 pp.
The Facts of Life, by Paul Goodman
by James Grossman
Private Communication The Facts of Life. by Paul Goodman. New York, The Vanguard Press, 1945. 261 pp. $2.50. A gifted, spoiled child has certain magnificent charms which are denied to all good children, just as he has certain horrors peculiarly his own.
Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville
by Ludwig Marcuse
A Preview of Democracy Democracy in America. by Alexis De Tocqueville. A new edition, edited Knopf. 1945. Vol. 1, 434 pp. Vol. 11, 401 pp.
by Saul Bellow
Four Novels The Journey Home. by Zelda Popkin. New York, J. B. Lippincott Co., 1945. 224 pp. $2.50. The Lonely Steeple. by Victor Wolfson. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1945.
A Sea Between, by Lavinia R. Davis
by Dorothy Adelson
Elsie Dinsmore's New Problem A Sea Between. by Lavinia R. Davis. New York, Doubleday, Doran, 1945. 266 pp. $2.00. This Item belongs to those sub-literary “girls' books” which year in and year out roll quietly off the assembly lines.
The Month in History
by Sidney Hertzberg
The Future of Europe's Jews Within a few months after the end of the most destructive war in history, realists talked casually about the possibility of the end of civilized life within the forseeable future.
The Study of Man
by Nathan Glazer
Sociologists are finally heeding the injunction, “Physician, heal thyself.” After having subjected social strata ranging from hoboes to the Four Hundred to sociological analysis, they have now begun to study the social scientist himself.