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Against the Grain: Jewish Intellectuals in Hard Times

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Against the Grain

Jewish Intellectuals in Hard Times

Edited by Ezra Mendelsohn†, Stefani Hoffman, & Richard I. Cohen

320 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-002-3 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2013)

eISBN 978-1-78238-003-0 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…a stellar anthology that belongs not only in every university library but also in the libraries of Jewish institutions serving serious readers.”  ·  Jewish Book World

“[T]he essays are well-written, clear, and interesting…the collection reads well and is informed by a high level of scholarship and expertise and has a diversity that should appeal to many readers.”  ·  Michael L. Morgan, Chancellor’s Professor, Emeritus, Indiana University


Highlighting the seminal role of German Jewish intellectuals and ideologues in forming and transforming the modern Jewish world, this volume analyzes the political roads taken by German Jewish thinkers; the impact of the Holocaust on the Central and East European Jewish intelligentsia; and the conundrum of modern Jewish identity. Several of German Jewry’s most outstanding figures such as Scholem, Strauss, and Kohn are discussed. Inspired by Steven E. Aschheim’s work, several contributors focus on the fraught relationship between German and East European Jews (the so-called Ostjuden) and between German Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors. More generally, this book examines how Central European Jewish thinkers reacted to the terrible crises of the twentieth century—to war, genocide, and the existential threat to the very existence of the Jewish people. It is essential reading for those interested in the triumphs and tragedies of modern European Jewry.

Ezra Mendelsohn† is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Contemporary Jewry and in Russian Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His most recent book is Painting a People: Maurycy Gottlieb and Jewish Art (2002).

Stefani Hoffman is the former director of the Mayrock Center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Research at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is co-editor of Insiders and Outsiders: Dilemmas of East European Jewry (with Richard I. Cohen and Jonathan Frankel, 2010).

Richard I. Cohen holds the Paulette and Claude Kelman Chair in French Jewry Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has recently edited Visualizing and Exhibiting Jewish Space and History (vol. 26 of Studies in Contemporary Jewry, 2012).

Subject: Jewish Studies 20th Century History
Area: Germany Central/Eastern Europe


Editors’ Note

Chapter 1. Reading Steven Aschheim
Ezra Mendelsohn

Part I. Strauss, Scholem, Arendt, Benjamin

Chapter 2. A Zionist Critique of Jewish Politics: The Early Thought of Leo Strauss
Jerry Z. Muller

Chapter 3. Leo Strauss Reading Karl Marx during the Cold War
Adi Armon

Chapter 4. Gershom Scholem, Einst und Jetzt: Zionist Politics and Kabbalistic Historiography
David Biale

Chapter 5. Death or Birth? Scholem and Secularization
Zohar Maor

Chapter 6. Fragments from a Correspondence(Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem) – A Poem
Zvi Jagendorf

Part II. Political Positioning in Hard Times

Chapter 7. In Heidegger’s Shadow: Ernst Cassirer, Emmanuel Levinas, and the Question of the Political
Jeffrey Andrew Barash

Chapter 8. Walter Rathenau’s Dilemma: Modernity and the Human Soul
Shulamit Volkov

Chapter 9. “Nothing but a Disillusioned Love”?: Hans Kohn’s Break with the Zionist Movement
Adi Gordon

Chapter 10. Historicism and the Event
Martin Jay

Part III. Brothers and Strangers: The Issue of Identity

Chapter 11. Asiatic Brothers, European Strangers: Eugen Hoeflich and Pan-Asian Zionism in Vienna
Hanan Harif

Chapter 12. “Brothers and Strangers”: The American Example
Pierre Birnbaum

Chapter 13. “Mann Kann Verjuden”: Paradoxes of Exemplarity
Vivian Liska

Part IV. In the Shadow of the Holocaust

Chapter 14. A “Usable Past” and the Crisis of European Jews: Popular Jewish Historiography in Germany, France, and Hungary in the 1930s
Guy Miron

Chapter 15. Three Jewish Émigrés at Nuremberg: Jacob Robinson, Hersch Lauterpacht, and Raphael Lemkin
Michael R. Marrus

Chapter 16. The Frankfurt School and the ‘Jewish Question,’ 1940-1970
Anson Rabinbach

Chapter 17. Holocaust History and Survivor Testimony: Challenges, Limitations, and Opportunities
Christopher R. Browning

Select Bibliography
List of Contributors

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