A Jewish Tourist's Guide to the U.S., by Bernard Postal and Lionel Koppman
This is a handsome, well-constructed book. Its seven hundred double-columned pages are filled with information. It has been compiled with care and is relatively free of factual error. It has a good index and copious illustrations. Yet one is puzzled by the scope and character of the volume, which is not really a tourist’s guide at all, but a kind of pseudo-history that attempts to impute specifically Jewish interest to anything and everything remotely touching American Jewish life. Of course, the Guide lists the names and addresses of the local synagogues and even the kosher restaurants of some towns and cities. But since these listings are never evaluated, the traveler learns nothing from them that he could not learn more easily by consulting the yellow pages of the telephone book.
The Jewish tourist envisaged by the compilers of this book can find Jewish interest in virtually anything he looks at. He will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit the Birmingham Conservatory of Music because it houses the Edna Gockel-Gussen Library of Chamber Music, which was established to memorialize the “non-Jewess who was Temple Emanu-El’s organist.” In a visit to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington, what concerns him is that the one-dollar bills printed there exhibit “the Great Seal of the United States, showing the 13 stars grouped in the form of a perfect Magen David.” And he is disappointed to learn that the brass six-pointed star in the main portico of the Alabama state capital building “has no Jewish connotation, but is merely a curious item.”
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