DR. MAURICE FISHBERG has brought together in a book on "The Jews" a great mass of valuable anthropological and sociological statistics. The work is likely to become a standard reference handbook for some time to come. For that reason it is deplorable that the author should have marred its value by over-zealousness in supporting a thesis that did not actually lie within the scope of his undertaking. He believes that the Jews are destined to be assimilated by the races among whom they live in Europe and America, and it is apparently in order to facilitate this manifest destiny that he arrays all the arguments he can muster tending to show that the Jews are not a pure race.
There are certain physical traits generally assumed by anthropologists to be distinctive of race. Dr. Fishberg finds that in these respects the Jews are not different from the races amongst whom they live. Certain other characteristics of a moral, social and vital or physiological nature, often ascribed to the Jews, are either denied existence or attributed by the author to economic and social status rather than to race.
The chief physical characteristics relied upon to distinguish races are stature, head-form and color. As to stature, Dr. Fishberg shows that the Jews rise and fall with the people in the land of their nativity, being short where the gentiles are short, and tall where they are tall, though never quite as tall. That stature is influenced by environment, is conceded by Dr. Fishberg—his own measurements on Jews in New York and those of Dr. Jacobs on the Jews in London leave no doubt on this point. A little of the Jewish variability in stature is reserved, nevertheless, to be ascribed to racial intermixture.
As to head-form Dr. Fishberg is more decided. The heads of European, Caucasian, African and Arabian Jews vary in shape. Some are long, some are broad, some are round. Only the commingling of the blood of different races could have produced these differences, argues the author.
Now, strange to say, in eastern Europe—in Russia, Poland, Hungary, Roumania—the Jews have remarkably uniform heads. These Jews
- "The Jews, a Study in Race and Environment," by Maurice Fishberg, M.D., Contemporary Science Series, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1911.