was born in 1892 in Tarnow, Galicia, a section of Poland that was then under Austro-Hungarian rule. He was raised in a Yiddish-speaking home and studied Yiddish in the Jewish school in his hometown. In 1911 he went to Palestine as a halutz (a Zionist pioneer) and worked for a few weeks on a newly founded Zionist agricultural farm where he contracted malaria and decided to leave.
On his return to Poland he met Hayim Lucky. Einspruch was attracted to the company of the knowledgeable Lucky and heard the Gospel from him. He came to faith, and left Poland for America, taking a position with the Cleveland Hebrew Mission. In 1917, enrolled at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. During these years, he began writing missionary tracts in Yiddish and English, which were published by the Chicago Tract Society. It was also during this period that Einspruch began translating the New Testament into Yiddish. His translation of the Book of Matthew was published by the American Bible Society, which sponsored the publications of many Bible translations. Upon his graduation from the seminary in 1920, Einspruch began working with the United Lutheran Church in America, which sponsored his Salem Hebrew Mission in Baltimore, Maryland, giving him a large amount of autonomy.
Intellectually inclined, Einspruch devoted much time to teaching and writing. “There was an emphasis on a literary ministry,” wrote Einspruch in describing his work. He also saw a need to advocate the cause of evangelizing the Jews in the Christian community. Like others of his generation who were educated and trained for work in Jewish missions, Einspruch was concerned with promoting a responsible professional attitude. Missionaries had often, he complained, dealt with their Jewish audience without adequate, deep knowledge of Jews and Judaism, a deficiency that affected both their presentation of Jews to the Christian community and their outreach to the Jews. He particularly complained about the Yiddish texts the missions provided: “most Jewish missionaries are familiar with the derisive appellation ‘missionary Yiddish.’ To say that the greater part of our Yiddish tracts are a horrible mutilation of a people’s language (and in this I include the Yiddish OT and NT) is to put it very midly.”
Attempting to set the record straight, Einspruch established his own missionary journal, the Mediator, in 1928. The name was symbolic, as it demonstrated the mission’s purpose as a mediator between the beliefs and values of Protestant Christian America and the immigrant Jewish community. This Yiddish and English quarterly enjoyed a circulation of more than fifty thousand copies at its peak. The journal functioned for thirty-five years; its closing down in the mid-1960s marked the end of an era, as Yiddish ceased to be a vital language for American Jews.
Einspruch’s magnum opus, a Yiddish translation of the complete NT, was motivated by his desire to provide prospective Jewish converts with an accurate, modern edition of the Christian gospel. It also reflected Einsrpuch’s literary inclinations as a Yiddish writer and gave him an opportunity to express his gifts. In this respect, Einsprruch was not unique; the tast of translating the Bible often gave missionaries with scholarly and literary inclinations an opportunity to express themselves and their creativity while serving missionary needs and without stepping out of line docrinaally.
Unlike his earlier translations, this enterprise was not carried out through the American Bible Society but rather as his mission’s independent enterprise. This demanded taking care of all stages of production. In order to produce the book, Einspruch had to acquire his own printing equipment, since none of the very few Yiddish printing presses in American at the time would print it. The cost of this project, as well as Einspruch’s other literary ventures, was considerable, much more than the local Lutheran church in Baltimore was willing to spend on literary enterprises related to Jewish evangelism. Einspruch approached private donors and was successful in gaining the support of Harriett Lederer to sponsor the mission and its publications. Lederer’s assistance gave Einspruch’s mission financial security and greater independence. As the United Lutheran Church lost interest later on in Jewish evangelism, the mission became an independent organization and assumed the name of the Lederer Foundation.
Einspruch’s NT in Yiddish came out in 1941 in a 590-page edition. It was reviesed in 1959 and has served since then as the standard Yiddish version of the NT, distributed to the dwindling Yiddish-reading population in North America. Trnaslations involve theological and cultural choices, and, in the course of his work, Einspruch made some major ones. It was important for him to write in good Yiddish prose, yet he was also a missionary and tried to choose words and expressions that woud promote the Christian evangelical message and would make the text more acceptable to Jews. Einspruch, for example, chose for his translated New Testament the title Der Bris Chadosha instead of Der Neu Testament, which had served as the title of NT translations until then. Literally, Bris Chadosha does not mean the New Testament but rather the New Covenant. The new title was probably borrowed from Franz Delitzsch’s late-nineteenth-century translation of the New Testament into Hebrew. Einspruch thus conveyed through the title of his translation a message that emphasized the dispensationalist, premillennialist missionary interpretation of history, namely, that there is a new covenant between God and his people.
The translation is accompanied by a number of illustrations that created a pleasant, familiar atmosphere meant to make the NT more acceptable and legitimate for Jews. The first page of the text, which begins with the Gospel of Matthew, shows an old Jewish man with a long white beard, dressed with a yarmulke and talit (a prayer shawl), surrounded by burning candles, and reading from a book. The scene clearly suggests that the New Testament is an old Jewish book that should be read and studied like a sacred Jewish text. The message of the illustration correlates with the opening verse of Matthew in Einspruch’s translation, “Das is das sefer fon dem yichus fun Yeshua hamasiach, dem zon fun Daviden, dem zon fun Avrahamen”, which familiarizes Jesus as a descendant of David and Abraham.
His missionary intentions notwithstanding, Einspruch’s translation aroused the interest and appreciation of the Yiddish literary community. Melech Ravitsch, one of the noted Yiddish writers of the day, published a ratsenzia, a Yiddish review of the book. Ravitsch was residing at that time in Mexico City and wrote for the Yiddish daily Der Weg. He was not a Jewish Christian but rather a non-Zionist Jewish nationalist (a common trend among Yiddish-speaking Jews before WW11). He did not care for Einspruch’s dispensationalist understanding of history and missionary aims, but he appreciated the translation. In his review article, Ravitsch explained to his readers why he thought it necessary for Jews to read the New Testament: “For well known reasons, the New Testament has remained for many of us Jews as a book sealed with seven seals. And that is truly a pity, for to some seven hundred million people it is a sacred book. A cultured person should know such a work; I myself have read it and recommend it to every intelligent Jew….The New Testament [is] one of the most important books in the world. How then can we Jews afford to ignore it?”
Would I? Would you? Lewis and Harriet Lederer Foundation, 1970
When Jews face Christ. The Mediator, 1932
When Jews face Christ. American Board of Missions to the Jews, 1939
The Good News According to Matthew. Messianic Jewish Resources International, December 1964
The most noted Jewish book in the world. The Lutheran Hebrew Center, 1920 Read Online
Raisins and Almonds. Lewis and Harriet Lederer Foundation, 1967
Ariel, Yaacov. Evangelising the Chosepn People.pp 88-90