The Jew as Immigrant
To The Editor:
Only today did I finally succeed in getting around to reading Mr. Handlin’s excellent article “Our Unknown American Jewish Ancestors” in the February COMMENTARY. . . .
Like all Professor Handlin’s work this article is notable for its hard-headed and balanced point of view. A history of American Jews, treated as an immigrant group and not as members of a so-called race or of a particular faith, needs to be written. This is true of all immigrant groups and all religious groups. . . .
Institute of Early
To The Editor:
Your March issue was excellent. . . . However, Professor Goodenough’s article suffers from the old naturalist sin of supposing that we can breed a scientist who is himself above the existential uncertainties and contradictions of life. Who is this “we” that is going to “use” religious truth for the good of the dodos who need it? The reason no such foundation for the study of religious truth exists lies in the very nature of religious truth. Tillich phrases it by saying that every man impinges on the absolutely unknown and unconditioned—every man, that is, has an ultimate concern, and that concern is properly his religion. Without it he could not muster the strength to get out of bed in the morning. That is why the old quarrel and antagonism between science and religion is so fruitless. . . . It is essentially a way of evading specific questions of dogma, the tensions set up by the endless postponement of the Christian and Jewish millennia.
The traditional religions ran out of new ways of keeping hope alive and fresh. . . . So it became fashionable to consider “religion” in the abstract under indictment. The fact is, of course, that the “scientists” are the first to jump to premature religious certainties. . . .
The poem, “A Letter,” by Kalman Heisler, published in the April COMMENTARY, was translated by Hortense Perell and not, as was erroneously stated, by Jacob Sloan.