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Book Notes: Studies in the Cultural Life of the Jews in England, Dov Noy and Issacher Ben-Ami (eds.)

N. N.

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Studies in the Cultural Life of the Jews in England, eds. Dov Noy and Issacher Ben-Ami, Folk? lore Research Center Studies, V, The Hebrew Univer? sity of Jerusalem, Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 1975, 412pp. (English), 123pp. (Hebrew). When academics wish to honour one of their fel? lows they present him (or her) with a volume of essays 122</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes 123 illustrating from their own learning some aspect of his. When therefore it was felt appropriate to offer a present to Avraham Harman on his sixtieth birthday it was but natural to follow this most agreeable pattern. And since 'Abe' Harman is interested in English life and culture, is President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is Chairman of the Israel Folklore Society, it is only fit and proper that a collection of essays on the Cultural Life of the Jews in England should appear under the auspices of the Folklore Research Centre of the Hebrew University and with the im? print of its Magnes Press. Even more appropriate should it be that the volume has appeared with the direct assistance of the 'Anglo-Saxon' Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. There is, alas, one standing fault of virtually all such volumes of essays; there is inevitably an unevenness about them, in that the best of the contributions can be very good indeed, while at the other extreme it is only possible to regret that their editors did not apply their editorial prerogatives with a greater thoroughness. That must be said about this volume too. It is, for instance, to be regretted that since the Hebrew contri? butions could not be given in translation each of them was not given a full summary. Out of eight Hebrew papers only five are given such recognition, and even at that there is unevenness in length and accuracy. A description of Richard I as 'King of Britain' ought to be impossible, but unfortunately it is only too easy to find. The 17 papers in English deserve fuller attention here. Even among these papers there is matter for regret. The unevenness among the contributions is very marked; some of the authors have obviously been included because of their eminence in the community rather than the quality of their papers, and for that reason perhaps the editors were unwilling to suggest a discreet use of the editorial blue-pencil. For too many of the papers there ought to have been the comment 'not up to scratch', while over others?such as a paper on traces of the Book of Esther in the work of Shakes? peare^?it would have been kinder to have lost the original manuscript. And yet a paper like that by Ruth Lehmann on the bibliography of Hermann Adler's works goes well with her other productions for tech? nical competence and for the reliance we know that we shall be able to place on its accuracy. Lloyd Gartner's essay on Cecil Roth, a measured tribute from one historian to another, was as well worth its place as were the papers on aspects of English folklore by Dr. Maidment and Mrs. Newall. Josef Fraenkel on 'The Zionist Press in Great Britain' has an important list of such papers but unfortunately its postscript reads like fragments of two entirely different papers cobbled together over-hastily in order to make up a reasonable length for inclusion. Joseph Left wich's 'Jewish Folk? lore in Zangwill', on the other hand, could well have been expanded; one reader at least would have wel? comed that deeper and fuller analysis of this important theme which Mr. Leftwich is well qualified to pro? vide. It would surely have been possible for the editor to have sacrificed part of his own work?and the 60 photographs so lavishly provided to illustrate it?in order to make possible such an expansion. Of the rest there are papers which merit a place not only here but in any short list for inclusion in any anthology of papers on Anglo-Jewish history produced over the past 60 years. Dr. V. D. Lipman has given us much on Anglo-Jewish Victorian society in its various forms, and here offers us another aspect of his subject. Its emphasis is perhaps too much on London Jewry as against the part which we are coming to recognise was increasingly being played by the provinces, but it adds another facet to the brilliant which he has made his special field. Raphael Loewe shows how an apparently unpromising subject?Jewish Student Feeding Ar? rangements in Oxford and Cambridge?can be made to illustrate an important theme, the way in which Anglo-Jewish youth came to Oxbridge and the way in which changes in those arrangements mirror the drawing of the 'intelligentsia' of Anglo-Jewry from all ranges of social and religious background. John Shaf tesley uses his unrivalled knowledge of the back numbers of the Jewish Chronicle to illustrate an impor? tant aspect of Anglo-Jewry; if the community pro? duced few fine scholars it still managed to retain the loyalties of many through their stomachs, thus vary? ing Napoleon's aphorism about an army and its sto? mach into one about a religion and its culinary cus? toms. Finally, Isaiah Shachar's discussion about the pictorial stereotype of English Jews and the part played by the 'Jew Bill' agitation in 1753 is another of these papers well worth inclusion; it might be added that a little more knowledge of the habits of the eighteenth century would have led him to realise that the Jew was the more likely to be recognisable and stereotyped by his beard, since no one wishing to enter society would have sported a beard until well after the end of the century. The standard of production is not worthy of the Press which has been responsible for this book. The proof-reading, the reproduction of the pictures, the editing, fall short of what we have come to expect. The production of a volume of essays is a kindly meant compliment, and the kindnesses behind it and those who generously made this volume possible ought to be recorded. It is a book which ought to be good, for it contains much of merit, but it falls short of the heights which its recipient has himself scaled. N.N.</page></plain_text>