Chaim Weizmann (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Nineteenth century Russia was not an easy place for anyone to live. For the Jews of the Pale of Settlement, the czarist autocracy, the hostility of the Christian majority, and the economically underdeveloped society combined to make life particularly difficult. This was the environment into which Chaim Weizmann, the future first president of Israel, was born in 1874. In an illustration in this fine book, the family home in Motol, a village near Pinsk, looks rather comfortable, even picturesque. Weizmann’s parents were middle class by local standards; his father bought, sold, and shipped timber. The family, however, was large (Chaim was the fourth of fifteen children), business conditions were fragile, and the potential for anti-Jewish violence made life and property insecure. Young Chaim was not physically injured by the pogroms which shook Russia during the period, but he grew up knowing that the costs of being a Jew were high.
His family was faithful to Judaism, though not particularly orthodox. For him, Jewishness was a question of national identity rather than religion. In 1895, his family sent him to Pinsk to study at a secular high school. The language of his home was Yiddish, his secular schooling was in Russian, and he continued to study Hebrew on the side. He became closely associated with the Hibbat Zion (love of Zion) group, which stressed the virtues of Jewish nationalism and worked to make Hebrew a spoken language. Yet his academic...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Booklist. LXXXI, May 1, 1985, p. 1235.
Choice. XXIII, September, 1985, p. 187.
Commentary. LXXX, November, 1985, p. 125.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, April 15, 1985, p. 366.
Library Journal. CX, April 1, 1985, p. 138.
The New Republic. CXCII, June 17, 1985, p. 25.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, June 30, 1985, p. 8.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVII, March 29, 1985, p. 62.
Washington Post Book World. XV, June 23, 1985, p. 4.
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