Although Jewish participation in German society increased after World War I, Jews did not completely assimilate into that society. In fact, says Michael Brenner in this intriguing book, the Jewish population of Weimar Germany became more aware of its Jewishness and created new forms of German-Jewish culture in literature, music, fine arts, education, and scholarship. Brenner presents the first in-depth study of this culture, drawing a fascinating portrait of people in the midst of redefining themselves. The Weimar Jews chose neither a radical break with the past nor a return to the past but instead dressed Jewish traditions in the garb of modern forms of cultural expression. Brenner describes, for example, how modern translations made classic Jewish texts accessible, Jewish museums displayed ceremonial artifacts in a secular framework, musical arrangements transformed synagogue liturgy for concert audiences, and popular novels recalled aspects of the Jewish past. Brenner's work, while bringing this significant historical period to life, illuminates contemporary Jewish issues. The preservation and even enhancement of Jewish distinctiveness, combined with the seemingly successful participation of Jews in a secular, non-Jewish society, offer fresh insight into modern questions of Jewish existence, identity, and integration into other cultures.
Hailed as our era's most profound theorist of literary influence, Harold Bloom's own influence on the landscape of literary criticism has been decisive. His wide-ranging critical writings have plumbed the depths of Romanticism, explored the anxiety caused by the influence of one generation of poets on another, wrestled with the idea of a literary canon, and examined the relationship between religion and literature. In this unprecedented full-length study on Harold Bloom, Agata Bielik-Robson explores the many facets of Bloom's critical writings and career. In his work, she argues, Bloom draws on a variety of disparate traditions-Judaism, Gnosis, romanticism, American pragmatism, and Freudianism, but also, especially recently, Victorian Aestheticism-that constitute a dialectical, difficult whole in constant quarrel with itself. The Saving Lie brings all these aspects of Bloom's thought together, revealing the organizing thread of "antithetical vitalism" that animates his work. Tracing the development of Bloom's vision of "life-in-antithesis" through a series of highly original and compelling readings, Bielik-Robson offers a much-needed reevaluation of a deeply complex and controversial figure. This pioneering study of Bloom and his contributions will not soon be surpassed.
David Koigen’s Contribution to the Sociology of Religion
Author: Martina Urban
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
This volume presents the theory of culture of the Russian‑born German Jewish social philosopher David Koigen (1879–1933). Heir to Hermann Cohen’s neo‑Kantian interpretation of Judaism, he transforms the religion of reason into an ethical Intimitätsreligion. He draws upon a great variety of intellectual currents, among them, Max Scheler’s philosophy of values, the historical sociology of Max Weber, the sociology of religion of Émile Durkheim, Ernst Troeltsch and Georg Simmel and American pragmatism. Influenced by his personal experience of marginality in German academia yet the same time unconstrained by the dictates of the German Jewish discourse, Koigen shapes these theoretical strands into an original argument which unfolds along two trajectories: theodicy of culture and ethos. Distinguished from ethics, ethos identifies the non-formal factors that foster a group’s sense of collective identity as it adapts to continuous change. From a Jewish perspective, ethos is grounded in the biblical covenant as the paradigm of a social contract and corporate liability. Although the normative content of the covenantal ethos is subject to gradual secularization, its metaphysical and existential assumptions, Koigen argues, continue to inform Jewish self-understanding. The concept of ethos identifies the dialectic of tradition as it shapes Jewish religious consciousness, and, in turn, is shaped by the evolving cultural and axiological sensibilities. In consonance, Jewish identity cannot be reduced to ethnicity or a purely secular culture. Urban develops these fragmentary and inchoate theories into a sociology of religious knowledge and suggests to read Koigen not just as a Jewish sociologist but as the first sociologist of Judaism who proposes to overcome the dogmatic anti-metaphysical stance of European sociology.
A unique collection of essays--written by more than one hundred scholars and arranged chronologically--provides a history of Jewish writing and thought in German-speaking lands, highlighting the impact of Jewish writers on German culture. UP.
A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction
Author: Jay Howard Geller
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
The evocative and riveting stories of four brothers—Gershom the Zionist, Werner the Communist, Reinhold the nationalist, and Erich the liberal—weave together in The Scholems, a biography of an eminent middle-class Jewish Berlin family and a social history of the Jews in Germany in the decades leading up to World War II. Across four generations, Jay Howard Geller illuminates the transformation of traditional Jews into modern German citizens, the challenges they faced, and the ways that they shaped the German-Jewish century, beginning with Prussia's emancipation of the Jews in 1812 and ending with exclusion and disenfranchisement under the Nazis. Focusing on the renowned philosopher and Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem and his family, their story beautifully draws out the rise and fall of bourgeois life in the unique subculture that was Jewish Berlin. Geller portrays the family within a much larger context of economic advancement, the adoption of German culture and debates on Jewish identity, struggles for integration into society, and varying political choices during the German Empire, World War I, the Weimar Republic, and the Nazi era. What Geller discovers, and unveils for the reader, is a fascinating portal through which to view the experience of the Jewish middle class in Germany.
The Contested Legacies of German Intellectual Figures
Author: D. Kettler
The history of American universities is punctuated by shifts in the terms on which the mission of higher education is defined and debated. A dramatic moment with lasting effects came with the introduction of German-speaking exile intellectuals in the Hitler era. In Germany, the academic culture of the early twentieth century was torn by the struggle between Wissenschaft and Bildung, two symbolic German terms, whose lack of precise English equivalents is a sign of the different configuration in America. The studies in this book examine the achievements of numerous influential émigré intellectuals against the background of their mediation between the two cultural traditions in science and liberal studies. In showing the richness of reciprocal influences, the book challenges claims about the disruptive influence of exile culture on the American mind.
The first major biography in English in over thirty years of the seminal modern Jewish thinker Martin Buber An authority on the twentieth-century philosopher Martin Buber (1878–1965), Paul Mendes-Flohr offers the first major biography in English in thirty years of this seminal modern Jewish thinker. The book is organized around several key moments, such as his sudden abandonment by his mother when he was a child of three, a foundational trauma that, Mendes-Flohr shows, left an enduring mark on Buber’s inner life, attuning him to the fragility of human relations and the need to nurture them with what he would call a “dialogical attentiveness.” Buber’s philosophical and theological writings, most famously I and Thou, made significant contributions to religious and Jewish thought, philosophical anthropology, biblical studies, political theory, and Zionism. In this accessible new biography, Mendes-Flohr situates Buber’s life and legacy in the intellectual and cultural life of German Jewry as well as in the broader European intellectual life of the first half of the twentieth century.
Assessing the legacy of the Frankfurt School in the twenty-first century Although successive generations of the Frankfurt School have attempted to adapt Critical Theory to new circumstances, the work done by its founding members continues in the 21st century to unsettle conventional wisdom about culture, society and politics. Exploring unexamined episodes in the School's history and reading its work in unexpected ways, these essays provide ample evidence of the abiding relevance of Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, Marcuse, Löwenthal, and Kracauer in our troubled times. Without forcing a unified argument, they range over a wide variety of topics, from the uncertain founding of the School to its mixed reception of psychoanalysis, from Benjamin's ruminations on stamp collecting to the ironies in the reception of Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man, from Löwenthal's role in Weimar's Jewish Renaissance to Horkheimer's involvement in the writing of the first history of the Frankfurt School. Of special note are their responses to visual issues such as the emancipation of color in modern art, the Jewish prohibition on images, the relationship between cinema and the public sphere, and the implications of a celebrated Family of Man photographic exhibition. The collection ends with two essays tracing the still metastasizing demonization of the Frankfurt School by the so-called Alt Right as the source of "cultural Marxism" and "political correctness," which has gained alarming international resonance and led to violence by radical right-wing fanatics.
Uncommon Friendship explores the often-overlooked dynamic of interreligious friendships, considering their significance for how we think about contemporary religious thought. By exploring the dynamics of three relationships between important religious thinkers---Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot, and Julia Kristeva and Catherine Clement---this study demonstrates the ways such friendships enable innovation and transformation within religious traditions. For each pair of thinkers, the sustained engagement and disagreement between them becomes central to their religious and philosophical development, helping them to respond effectively and creatively to issues and problems facing their communities and societies. Through a rereading of their work, Young shows how such friendships can help us rethink religion, aesthetics, education, and politics---as well as friendship itself. "An utterly remarkable treatise on the interreligious friendships that joined three pairs of the great thinkers of twentieth century Europe. I know of nothing quite like this. It is rigorous scholarship that has the sharp edge of cultural criticism and yet the inspiring effect of a philosophic and spiritual poem. Its lesson is indeed uncommon: that critical reason is strengthened by love, that love is deepened by undomesticated difference, and that, in a quiet way, the name of God may have a lot to do with all of the above."---Peter Ochs Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaie Studies University of Virginia "An elegantly written and intellecually engaging study, William Young's Uncommon Friendships offers a refreshing portrayal of the praxis of friendship and its ability to operate as a key element in the development of ideas generally and in efforts towards interreligious dialogue in particular. Young's lucid descriptions of the long-term intellectual engagements between Rosenstock/Rosenzweig, Levinas/Blanchot, Kristeva/Clement highlight the embodied, creative, and often unsettling affects of friendship upon the evolution of an intellectual work. Young's book deepens our understanding of the social character of knowledge and challenges readers to consider the value of a praxis of friendship as a check upon solipsism and the drive for truth and as a tool for cultivating patient listening and an openness regarding the contingency of our beliefs."---Randi Rashkover George Mason University
This text introduces the most important Jewish philosophers of contemporary times from the point of view of their original approach to both Judaism and philosophy and include: Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenweig, Martin Buber, Leo Strauss, Emmanuel Levinas. It shows how for them the dialogue between Judaism and philosophy is necessary in order to avoid on one side, an attachment to Jewish tradition which is only nationalistic or non-rational; and on the other, an idea of philosophy which first of all focuses the problems of nature, human existence in the world, or God as the origin of being. In reconstructing the intellectual evolution of each of these twentieth-century philosophers with a view to their meaning today, this book is unique and goes beyond the standard historical account provided by other books. Contemporary Jewish Philosophy is essential reading for researchers and students of philosophy, Judaism and the history of religions.
Jehuda Reinharz, born in Haifa in 1944, spent his childhood in Israel and his adolescence in Germany, and moved with his family to the United States when he was seventeen. These three diverse geographies and the experiences they engendered shaped his formative years and the future of a prolific scholar who devoted his life to the study of the central role of leadership as Jews faced the challenges of emancipation and integration in Germany, the rise of modern antisemitism, the formation of Zionist youth culture and politics, and the transformation of Jewish politics in Palestine and the State of Israel. In this volume, eminent scholars in their respective fields extend the lines of Reinharz's research interests and personal activism by focusing on the ideological, political, and scholarly contributions of a diverse range of individuals in Jewish history. Essays are clustered around five central themes: ideology and politics; statecraft; intellectual, social and cultural spheres; witnessing history; and in the academy. This volume offers a panoramic view of modern Jewish history through engaging essays that celebrate Reinharz's rich contribution as a path-breaking and prolific scholar, teacher, and leader in the academy and beyond.
Born in rural Hesse, Germany, Leo Strauss (1899-1973) became an active Zionist and philosopher during the tumultuous and fractious Weimar Republic. As Eugene R. Sheppard demonstrates in this groundbreaking and engaging book, Strauss gravitated towards such thinkers as Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt as he sought to identify and overcome fundamental philosophical, political, and theological crises. The rise of Nazism impelled Strauss as a young Jewish migr, first in Europe and then in America, to grapple with--and accommodate his thought to--the pressing challenges of exile. In confronting his own state of exile, Strauss enlisted premodern Jewish thinkers such as Moses Maimonides and Baruch Spinoza who earlier addressed the problem of reconciling their competing loyalties as philosophers and Jews. This is the first study to frame Strauss's political philosophy around his critique of liberalism and the problem of exile. Sheppard follows Strauss from Europe to the United States, a journey of a conservative Weimar Jew struggling with modern liberalism and the existential and political contours of exile. Strauss sought to resolve the conflicts of a Jew unwilling to surrender loyalty to his ancestral community and equally unwilling to adhere to the strictures of orthodox observance. Strauss saw truth and wisdom as transcending particular religious and national communities, as well as the modern enlightened humanism in which he himself had been nurtured. In his efforts to navigate between the Jewish and the philosophical, the ancient and the modern, Berlin and New York, Strauss developed a distinctively programmatic way of reading and writing "between the lines." Sheppard recaptures the complexity and intrigue of this project which has been ignored by those who both reject and claim Strauss's legacy.