ON JEWS AND JUDAISM IN CRISIS by Gershom Scholem

ON JEWS AND JUDAISM IN CRISIS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A selection of essays and letters by the renowned scholar of Jewish mysticism and its relevance to contemporary life, this vivid, difficult work will serve a dual purpose. For those already conversant with the writings of Scholem, Walter Benjamin, Martin Buber, and the other great Jewish intellects of this century--as well as with the deepest questions of Jewish tradition, survival, and identity--the book will be an invaluable supplement. It opens with an interview that provides a rare informal glimpse of Scholem in conversation, as well as an intellectual autobiography that illumines both the origins and the evolution of his individual variant of Zionism. And it includes his personal reminiscences and deeply sympathetic interpretations of the great Hebrew novelist S.Y. Agnon, the philosopher and poet Benjamin, and--in the mode of disappointed criticism--Martin Buber. Here, too, is Scholem in loving, contentious correspondence with his friends Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. The connoisseur will thus be plunged into the heart of modern Jewish controversy--but there is revelation in store, also (despite the almost Talmudic difficulty), for the Jewish reader who has not previously encountered Scholem, and even for the non-Jewish reader concerned about the meaning and preservation of ""peoplehood"" in the 20th century. In an essay on the Jews in Germany, Scholem makes it clear that abandonment of their special identity, and self-delusion about the degree of their ""assimilation,"" left the Jews open to catastrophe. On the meanings and problems of Israel, on the search through tradition for seeds of rebirth, on the resurrection of Hebrew, on the possibility of a modern Jewish theology, on the Jewish relationship to history, Scholem is precise, passionate, skeptical, wholly original.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1976
Publisher: Schocken