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Edited by Jonathan V. Plaut.

Toronto, Lester & Orpen Dennys, c1982.
308pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-88619-0304.

Reviewed by Ryma Kolodny.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

Extraordinary men deserve extraordinary tributes, and very few men in our lifetime have been quite as deserving as Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut. Seldom does a person display such keen interest, acumen, and scholarship in such a catholic array of disciplines. That this phenomenon should emanate from a theologian is in itself both surprising and vastly reassuring. Theology has not, as a rule, demonstrated the renaissance spirit throughout history, but Rabbi Plaut is nothing less than a renaissance man.

In a world of glib praises and overused superlatives, a tribute must be beyond suspicion in order for it to make an impact. It must be simple and classy; it must be relevant; and it must not detract from the object of praise. Through the Sound of Many Voices is a marvelous collection of writings honouring Rabbi Plaut, not through facile and meaningless praise, but through a display of excellence in the contributors' own fields of expertise, fields that happen to coincide with Dr. Plaut's interests. The essays range in theme from the arts to literature, from politics to human rights, from the Bible to Israel. The list of contributors is impeccable and impressive, including authors, historians, judges, theologians, and philosophers.

Norman Cousins's eloquent case for the triumph of civilization over holocaust in "Hope," is echoed in Walter Mondale's "Why Do We Have Hope?," in which the latter answers the question with, "Because Israel is forever."

The historical contributions to this anthology are crisp, informative, and dynamic, especially Irwin Cotler's "Human Rights and the New Anti-Jewishness." He holds out hope that despite flagrant anti-semitism, the Jewish people will stand up and be coimted. Essays on human rights and responsibilities raise such piercing questions as, "Do we (as a civilization) have any values left for which we are prepared to die?" ("Reflections on Our Time: A Canadian Perspective," by G. Emmett Carter), and return to the same conclusions as were reached by the previously mentioned authors: civilization can be saved, human dignity will triumph. That so many diverse people would contribute articles expressing faith in the triumph of the human spirit, honours not only Judaism and its philosophies, but also the teachings, beliefs, and life of Rabbi Plaut.

The book is compelling by any standards one may wish to apply. It abounds with ideas vital enough to arouse many hours of thought and debate. If we are to ever justify the hope in humanity that this volume expresses, then we must, as educators, accept the responsibility of exposing our students to this intelligent and eloquent book. Expectations of excellence are not enough; we must also furnish our students with appropriate models. Rabbi Plaut's is truly a life well lived, one that contributes to humanity and enriches the cause of civilization. It embodies the concept of excellence, and the example must be passed on.

Ryma Kolodny, Mount Royal Catholic H. S., Montreal, QC.
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