Page:A Jewish State 1917.djvu/11
EDITOR'S PREFACE TO THE EDITION OF 1904
Even in the bald form of a chronological table, it is evident that the record of those who hearkened to the "Jewish State" idea is a notable one, sufficient to claim the sympathy and support of every Jew and Jewess. The book was moulded into the platform of 1897, in the framing of which more than one cautious brain had a share; and in turn the question arises in how far has this program become living fact. A comparison of these facts and the author's idea will show that, in as far as he shaped the movement, he was most tenacious of his ideas. The work has proceeded much on the lines he suggested, this perhaps by reason of their simplicity—for much that has made the Zionist movement grew up and around him. Those who joined Theodor Herzl in the effort to realize his plan brought with them the instincts, hopes and desires of the Jewish people, thoughts and ideals red with the blood that gave them, birth, truer and more significant of that which is eternal in each people than all that the study and the school room can suggest. A stupendous work awaited those who proclaimed Palestine, as the third part of the thought, one people—national Jewish restoration. Only the most rudimentary scheme of organization was established in 1897, yet it called forth so much enthusiasm that it has been twice revised in accordance with the growing needs of a movement that actually circles the globe, an organization which is at once centripetal and centrifugal, and yet has in each country to correspond with the social customs of the people and keep within the laws that restrict international and even national organization in Eastern Europe. Here alone is a task for a generation, and room for the brains of the most able organizers. Yet all the rough work has been done, and the second clause of the program has been fulfilled at comparatively no expense.
The self-volition of the movement checked the assimilative thought and revived the Jewish brotherhood idea; the "bent back" of the Jew grew straight in the presence of the Jewish flag; a new poetry and a new prosody, deep with the feelings that stir a people, have arisen; a school of young artists have given themselves over to the creation of a Jewish art; others have planned an international Jewish university; a cultural movement—combated for the time being by the more orthodox—has spread so strongly as sometimes to shake the main movement from its true centre; the Hebrew tongue has found need and occasion to blossom into a living language; and with the national, intellectual renaissance—which sweeps within itself the revival of conservative Jewish thought, which is the present phase of American Jewish life—has come a desire for the development of the physical powers of the Jews, so that Jewish gymnasiums and Jewish gymnastic journals exist to the surprise of all those who know the Jew only as a brainy creature. The thousand facets of a national movement have sent rays of light, of hope, and of a new sense of security into the lives of an erstwhile broken and dispirited people.