This new book by a stalwart of British Jewry is a considerable down payment on a debt of gratitude to rabbis Alakalai, Kalischer, Mohliver, Reines, Kook, and Maimon, the protagonists of Pioneers of Religious Zionism.Without their foresight, perseverance, and fortitude in the face of adversity, the larger Zionist enterprisemight have faltered and religious Zionism would never have seen the light of day. With the publication of Pioneers, the essential ingredients of the lives, thoughts, and deeds of these larger-than-life personalities are accessible to a general audience. One could learn more of the historical details from the Encyclopedia of Zionism, and read more selections from their writings in The Zionist Idea, if not for Raymond Goldwater’s book, the exploits and accomplishments of these erstwhile giants would remain the sole provenance of musty encyclopedias and scholarly tomes. The publisher is commended for this fine addition to a growing shelf of modern and contemporary works of religious interest, and cautioned to do a more thorough job of editing future publications. Apart from several factual errors and numerous indecipherable annotations, the absence of an index severely limits the usefulness of the book as an educational resource.
Moshe Sokolow, Ph.D., is the Fanya Gottesfeld-Heller Professor of Jewish Education at the Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University.