ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL:Prophetic Witness by Edward K. Kaplan and Samuel H. Dresner ($35.00, hardcover; 416 pages Yale University Press, ISBN: 0300071868)
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-72) was one of the outstanding Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century. A renowned American theologian and interpreter of tradition, and the author of such important books as Man Is Not Alone, God in Search of Man, and The Prophets, he was a living example of holiness, compassion, and vehement dedication to social justice.
This book, the first of two volumes, is the only comprehensive biography of Heschel available in any language. Based on interviews with Heschels friends and family, archival documents, and his previously unknown writings in Yiddish, German, and Hebrew, the book traces Heschels life from his birth in Warsaw, in 1907, to his arrival in New York in 1940. Edward Kaplan and Samuel Dresner describe how Heschel came of age in a Hasidic community and reached maturity in secular-Jewish Vienna and cosmopolitan Berlin, speaking out as a religious philosopher during the advent of Nazism. They relate how he became a teacher in Berlin, in Frankfurt, as part of Martin Bubers education program (which was the beginning of his lifelong debate with Buber), 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 immigrated to the United States, fully prepared for his dual roles as social activist and interpreter of Jewish piety.
Edward K. Kaplan is professor of French and comparative literature and research associate at the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry at Brandeis University. He knew Heschel for the last six years of his life and is the author of Holiness in Words: Abraham Joshua Heschel Poetics of Piety (SUNY). Rabbi Samuel H. Dresner, professor of philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary, was a student, friend, and editor of Heschel. He is the author of many books, including The Zaddik (Jason Aronson) and World of a Hasidic Master: Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev (Jason Aronson).
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