by Fred Isaac
This book, by a well-known British Jew, presents a century of rabbinical leadership in the observant community. Raymond Goldwater discusses the lives, writing, and impact of several important rabbis from the middle of the 19th century through the formation of Israel, many of whom are little known outside their own communities. Some were partners with Herzl, Weizmann, and Ben-Gurion, while others were more closely connected to the Mizrachi stream of Zionism. All of them were critical in forming the religious ideas that drew thousands of immigrants to Palestine, and that remain part of the State’s frame of reference to this day.
Pioneers of Religious Zionism brings out an important aspect of the movement over the past century and a half. The writing is clear and straightforward. The rabbis’ contributions are treated chronologically, making it easy to see their impact over the generations, but the profiles are not interwoven; each chapter is essentially independent. The volume lacks a bibliography and an index. It will be most useful in academic institutions, though it can be a worthwhile purchase for synagogue and high school libraries.