An Unsung Jewish Prophet
For most of their long history, especially in the century of Hitler and Stalin, Jews have faced their greatest threat in anti-Semitism. Yet in this same century another and perhaps ultimately more potent threat to Jewish survival has arisen, and not from without but within: assimilation. Earlier and more clearly than perhaps anyone, a certain professor, now all but forgotten, understood the scope and force of this threat.
A portrait immortalizes him with his wife and four children. The two middle children and their mother, seated on wicker chairs and dressed in the comfortable fashions of the yishuv—the prestate Zionist colony in Palestine—face the camera with relatively open smiles. Behind them stands the eldest child; her eyes look out from shadows. The clean-shaven professor himself is all dignity. His dark suit is vested, his shoulders are rigid, his gaze, minus the usual spectacles, is aimed myopically elsewhere. Jowly, stoutish, half-bald, he could pass better as the grandfather than the father of the infant being held in its smiling mother’s arms.
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