- 8,49 €
Gershom Scholem, the great humanist thinker and founder of modern Kabalah, is all but forgotten today. But here, in a biography as daring and inquisitive as its subject, George Prochnik goes in search of Scholem, restoring the reputation of a vital intellectual and finding in his work a vision with the power to reinvigorate contemporary religious and political thought.
Tracing Scholem's life from his upbringing in Berlin, where he experienced a close and transformative friendship with Walter Benjamin, Prochnik reveals how Scholem's frustration with the bourgeois ideology of Germany during WWI led him to discover mystic Judaism, Kabbalah, and, finally, Zionism. But having emigrated to what was to become Israel, Scholem again found himself a 'stranger in a strange land', ill at ease with a prevailing conservative form of Zionism.
Prochnik follows Scholem to the modern Holy Land - only to find that he too is disillusioned by the state politics he encounters. But through his profound study of Scholem and his own experience of Jerusalem, Prochnik not only questions the ideological and religious constructs of Jerusalem, but finds an ethical way forward, showing how a new form of pluralism might energize Jewish thought.
Prochnik (The Impossible Exile) effectively and movingly combines a nuanced biography of Gershom Scholem, who singlehandedly created an academic discipline out of an obscure theological tradition , with a warts-and-all autobiography that recounts Prochnik s search for meaning in his own life. The contrast between the physical and the spiritual is manifest from the opening section, as Prochnik engages even readers with no knowledge of his subject by recounting how he visited Scholem s old house in Jerusalem to find it abandoned and derelict. He interweaves Scholem s life story, starting with his boyhood in Berlin, with his own, alternating sections that illustrate how both he and his subject dealt with the contrast of the reality of the State of Israel with its idealistic aspirations. Scholem was prominent in the pre-state Brit Shalom movement, which advocated a binational Arab-Jewish state in Palestine; Prochnik, who lived in Israel with his wife in the 1990s, confronted the dehumanizing aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the profound trauma of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He also makes Scholem s study of Jewish mystical texts, and of the 17th-century false messiah Sabbatai Sevi, interesting and accessible. This is a powerful must-read for anyone interested in how people of faith struggle to live in the real world.