Publisher: Yale University Press. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. Born in Warsaw, raised in a Hasidic community, and reaching maturity in secular Jewish Vilna and cosmopolitan Berlin, Abraham Joshua Heschel escaped Nazism and immigrated to the United States in This lively and readable book tells the comprehensive story of his life and work in America, his politics and personality, and how he came to influence not only Jewish debate but also wider religious and cultural debates in the postwar decades.
A tireless challenger to spiritual and religious complacency, Heschel stands as a dramatically important witness. Edward K.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Kaplan is Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities at Brandeis University where he teaches in French, comparative literature, and religious studies. He has been writing on Heschel for many years, and his publications include Holiness in Words: A. Heschel's Poetics of Piety. Visit Seller's Storefront. Though they were now armed with a broader base of support, advocates for Soviet Jewry were never able to push the issue into the American consciousness on their own. With its passage of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which threatened the Soviet Union economically if it did not allow Jews to emigrate, Congress transformed the Soviet Jewry movement into a mainstream human rights issue of paramount concern to Americans.
It was this new Cold War reality, Feingold believes, that brought the Soviet Jewry movement to a successful conclusion. Not only does Feingold suggest that a broader understanding of American history will help to illuminate the Soviet Jewry movement, but he also believes that integrating the Soviet Jewish issue into the broader American history would lead to a more complete understanding of the Cold War.
Nevertheless, the optimism and self-assuredness is noteworthy in an era punctuated by anxieties, provoked by conditions and events both global and parochial. Nor is this tone discordant. Scholarly historical syntheses published by leading American Jewish historians in the past few years adopt a similarly hopeful air. The contrast with the gloom-and-doom tomes of the early s is palpable.
- Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, by Edward K. Kaplan;
- Spiritual Radical.
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On those occasions when they gaze backward, they remain cognizant of an insecure past but exultant in their personal and collective triumphs. The comparison was meant to be complimentary. Burns when the series needs to linger a little longer on an emblematic biography, and he chooses wisely. Which is the noun, which the adjective? It seems likely that, had Wenger chosen the series title, the adjective and noun would have been reversed.
Wenger provides a service by bringing to light the voices of women, who were often given short shrift in earlier documentary histories. Fully one- third of the accounts come from women. The section also includes documents from the nineteenth century, including three focusing on various aspects of the Jewish experience dur- ing the Civil War. Subsequent sections of the book include similarly illuminating accounts from the s through the present, although one wishes that Wenger had provided a little more balance in her selections.
Perusing this book, one could be forgiven for concluding that the majority of eastern European immigrants were either socialists and labor organizers or entertainers. While it is gratify- ing to see both groups accorded their due, the overemphasis comes at the expense of documents that could have shed more light on social, religious, and cultural life. Likewise, little or no attention is devoted to the impact of demographic trends such as geographic mobility, intermarriage, and embourgeoisement.
Where are the twentieth century analogues to Abigail Franks and Rebecca Samuel? The lack of attention to the latter phenomenon is particularly problematic given the emphasis in earlier sections on proletari- anization. Upward socioeconomic mobility was an essential facet of twentieth century American Jewish life.
Moreover, most immigrant Jews harbored middle class aspirations and cultivated middle class values. Few internalized a working class consciousness. Particularly praiseworthy is the extended focus on Jews and the Civil Rights Movement. Grubin duly notes the disproportionate Jewish involve- ment in the freedom rides, protest marches, and Mississippi Freedom Summer voter registration project, and he probes for evidence that young volunteers were motivated in part by internalized Jewish values.
But he does not gloss over the complex response of Southern Jews, nor does he downplay the eventual unraveling of the black-Jewish alliance. Still, this is a rare misstep. Not so, Victoria Hattam. Her reasoning: The language of ethnicity elides crucial questions of power laid bare in discussions of race. Having established the pernicious nature of the race-ethnicity distinction and thus the relevance of her work , Hattam traces its history.
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She locates its origins in the writings of a group of American Zionists published in the. But category formation is a process, not an act. Moving from a bottom-up to a top-down analysis, she also considers the role of the state in the invention of ethnicity. But her trenchant critique of whiteness scholarship goes far in correcting the historical record regarding immigrant assimilation.
Herscovici was born in Romania and received a degree in chemistry from the University of Iasi in He immigrated to the United States in and became a citizen in Additionally, the self-published book includes grammatical mistakes and awkward passages. An addendum at the conclusion of the book contains technical details of the temple organ and texts of several services found in archives. Kaplan, a loyal Heschel student, for the most part presents Heschel in the image of the biblical prophets whom he studied and emulated: one who carried a divine message even while remaining profoundly human.
His active support for the rights of African-Americans grew out of his commitment that Judaism, and religious life generally, demanded such action. This further inspired his challenge to all religious people to take up social and political causes, because they were religious causes. This, however, is not explored either.
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In this light, it seems somewhat strange that Susannah Heschel does not appear in the list of interviewees for the volume; only conversations and email communications with her are listed. Methodologically, the volume raises some questions. For this, Kaplan relies on the account of a single witness. However, these criticisms do not detract from a useful account of the transformation of a Jewish refugee from Europe into a religious voice heeded by Jews and Christians in the United States and around the world.
Spiritual radical : Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972
Erinnerungen Vienna: Paul Zsolnay Verlag, , pp. It was the German language and German poetry that helped her survive Nazi death camps. Her childhood, marred by discrimination and persecution, made her painfully aware of estab- lished forms of antisemitism and of exploitation of women, particularly in academe—both in the United States and in Europe.
Needless to say, a woman who as a child barely escaped the gas chambers of Auschwitz is sensitive toward generally accepted forms of discrimination and abuse. Obviously, this survivor is more sensitized and less willing to accept dubious compromises.
This attitude brought her both friends and admirers but also failed friendships, such as the one with German author Martin Walser. She taught German language and literature at many American universities, including Princeton, as well as in Germany and Austria. He turns the lost world of his fathers — the communities of Eastern European Hasidim and their rabbis — into an almost utopian realm. Some of this uniqueness can be felt in the way Heschel approached the woman in the airport.
Her mockery is defused, the interaction shifted to the mundane.
Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972
But surely you can see that your anger is not justified? The confrontation dissolves into a conversation, the hostility into humor. A yeshiva student in Poland, he rebelled not by becoming a secular Jew but by getting a doctorate in theology and philosophy from the University of Berlin. He fled the Nazis who murdered one of his sisters and caused the death of his mother but never found a comfortable intellectual home in the United States — neither during his early years at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati nor during his long career at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Perhaps that history of trauma and dislocation made him more alert to disruptions in others. But in the airport conversation, Heschel gently found a way to dispose of opposing social roles — the protesting rabbi scorning racism, the put-upon woman threatened by difference — and establish the beginnings of an understanding. View all New York Times newsletters.
The quest for common ground seemed to inspire his theological explorations as well. Heschel, influenced by German phenomenology, was preoccupied with experience rather than fact, with poetic evocation rather than explication.
At the seminary he was a professor of Jewish ethics and mysticism. He was intent on communicating the incommunicable, exploring the ineffable. In referring to God he does not imagine an Aristotelian prime mover but a transcendent being who needed humanity to fulfill himself.