Rocks versus Gravel, or: Schechter on Modern Jewish Excellence

Rocks versus Gravel, or: Schechter on Modern Jewish Excellence T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIEW , Vol. 106, No. 2 (Spring 2016) 155–159 RocksversusGravel, or:Schechter on Modern Jewish Excellence IRENE E. Z WIEP University of Amsterdam ON ‘‘THE SEMINARY AS A W ITNESS’’ ( 1903) ITIS ‘‘ TH E D UT Y of every great religion to produce great men.’’ Thus spoke Solomon Schechter in an address delivered in New York at the dedication of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America building, in April 1903. His address was later published in a volume that appeared in 1915, the year of his death. Schechter’s words were a deliberate correc- tion of the American poet-diplomat James Russell Lowell’s view that gen- erating greatness was the responsibility of all great nations. For Schechter, whose commitment to diasporic Jewry outweighed his prag- matic sympathy for Zionist nationalism, it was Judaism as religion, not polity, that should supply the world with Great Jewish Men. As the newly appointed president of the seminary, Schechter was in an excellent position to supplement this ambition with a proper educational program. Hardly surprising—Schechter being a thinker of enviable consistency—that program was based on his cherished principles of ‘‘eternity and catholicity’’ http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Jewish Quarterly Review University of Pennsylvania Press

Rocks versus Gravel, or: Schechter on Modern Jewish Excellence

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Abstract

T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIEW , Vol. 106, No. 2 (Spring 2016) 155–159 RocksversusGravel, or:Schechter on Modern Jewish Excellence IRENE E. Z WIEP University of Amsterdam ON ‘‘THE SEMINARY AS A W ITNESS’’ ( 1903) ITIS ‘‘ TH E D UT Y of every great religion to produce great men.’’ Thus spoke Solomon Schechter in an address delivered in New York at the dedication of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America building, in April 1903. His address was later published in a volume that appeared in 1915, the year of his death. Schechter’s words were a deliberate correc- tion of the American poet-diplomat James Russell Lowell’s view that gen- erating greatness was the responsibility of all great nations. For Schechter, whose commitment to diasporic Jewry outweighed his prag- matic sympathy for Zionist nationalism, it was Judaism as religion, not polity, that should supply the world with Great Jewish Men. As the newly appointed president of the seminary, Schechter was in an excellent position to supplement this ambition with a proper educational program. Hardly surprising—Schechter being a thinker of enviable consistency—that program was based on his cherished principles of ‘‘eternity and catholicity’’

Journal

Jewish Quarterly ReviewUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Jun 22, 2016

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