This selection of writings from the pages of The Jewish Quarterly of London is a tribute to the skill of the founder/editor, Dr Jacob Sonntag, in keeping the magazine going, with no visible means of support, for more than 25 years. Many of the pieces within the book rise to the challenge of formulating a direct and serious response to the momentous events that have affected the Jews in our time. In other cases, we are offered echoes of the past that are relevant in a different sense, including, to choose almost at random, essays on Heine and Feuchtwanger, translations of Yiddish poetry from Eastern Europe, and rather surprisingly, extracts from plays in which classical Jewish situations are given dramatic form – a Christian-Jewish disputation before King James of Aragon in 13th century Spain, the dilemma of Spinoza on finding himself ex-communicated for heresy by the rabbis of 17th century Amsterdam, the passion of a Hassidic rabbi in 19th century Poland who sets out to force God to send the Messiah.
Listing things this way, the book might seem to be offering what is basically an assortment, reflecting the variety of Jewish experience. But this is not how it works for a Jewish reader. Inevitably, we supply our own unifying categories in which everything published about Jews in our time stands