Abraham Joshua Heschel by Edward K. Kaplan
Prophetic Witness

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Synopsis

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was one of the outstanding Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. A renowned American theologian and interpreter of tradition, he was author of such books as "Man Is Not Alone", "God in Search of Man", and "The Prophets". This book, the first of two volumes, is a comprehensive biography of Heschel. Based on interviews with Heschel's friends and family, archival documents and Heschel's previously unknown writings in Yiddish, German and Hebrew, the book traces Heschel's life from his birth in Warsaw in 1907 to his emigration to the United States in 1940. Edward Kaplan and Samuel Dresner describe how Heschel came of age in a Hasidic community and reached maturity in secular Jewish Vilna and cosmopolitan Berlin, speaking out as a religious philosopher during the advent of Nazism. They relate how he became a teacher in Berlin, in Martin Buber's education programme in Frankfurt (where his lifelong debate with Buber originated), in Warsaw, and in London, while the several Jewish cultures he had absorbed were being destroyed. They show that he was already intellectually and spiritually mature when he emigrated to the United States, fully prepared for his dual roles as interpreter of Jewish piety and social activist.
 

About Edward K. Kaplan

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Edward K. Kaplan is Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Research Associate of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry, and Chair of the Program on Religious Studies at Brandeis University.
 
Published May 25, 1998 by Yale University Press. 416 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction

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In 1951, Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr predicted that Abraham Joshua Heschel would ""become a commanding and authoritative voice not only in the Jewish community but in the religious life of America."" This first volume of a two-volume biography follows Heschel from his birth in Warsaw in...

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Project MUSE

The description of Heschel's correspondence with Buber is most intriguing, for Buber seems to have become almost a father figure to Heschel, who replaced Buber as the head of the Lehrhaus in Frankfurt, after the older scholar had gone to live in the land of Israel.

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Project MUSE

Kaplan captures the mismatch poignantly by comparing the close bond Heschel formed with the school's black janitor with his difficulties engaging the rabbinical students (a number of whom taunted the European immigrant with derogatory nicknames.) Moreover, Heschel's raw emotions about the destruc...

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