Eclectic Miscellany is a volume of collected essays from the 18th and 19th century, on topics related to the wide scope of the Jewish experience from Spain to India, from Ottoman Turkey to the American Jews and from the Jews of Eastern Europe to the Holy Land and out to Ethiopia.
From the Introduction
THERE ARE tens of thousands of essays, stories and articles which are tucked away and have been forgotten about. Even with the advantage of modern ‘digital libraries’ and other sources, these writings usually will not be found, as they are embedded either among long chapters or are not cataloged in a manner which would make them easy to locate.
These 18th and 19th century writings, often spoke on subjects of a contemporary nature, thereby giving the modern reader a peak back at ‘how it was.’ By way of example, in this volume, the essay ‘Jews of Austrian Prague, Hungary and Poland’ discusses the brief period when these locations were part of the Austrian Empire.
Peter Stearns of the respected American Historical Association explains that it is important to study history, firstly, because history harbors beauty and secondly, because history’s utility relies on two fundamental facts: history helps us understand people and societies—and that history helps us understand change and how the society we live in came to be.
This book is widely diverse, just as the Jewish people are themselves diverse. The national Jewish experience has been one of struggle and pain, and this struggle has driven Jews to all corners of the Earth and has made them a unique example of survival. As Leo Tolstoy said in 1908, “The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He who neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy, he who neither fire, nor sword, nor Inquisition was able to wipe off the face of the Earth. He was the first to produce the visions of God. He has been for so long the guardian of prophecy and has transmitted it to the rest of the world. Such a nation cannot be destroyed. The Jew is as everlasting as eternity itself.”