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Gershom ScholemAn Intellectual Biography$
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Amir Engel

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226428635

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226428772.001.0001

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Writing the Myth of Exile: In Search of Political Rejuvenation, 1913–1918

Writing the Myth of Exile: In Search of Political Rejuvenation, 1913–1918

(p.26) Chapter 2 Writing the Myth of Exile: In Search of Political Rejuvenation, 1913–1918
Gershom Scholem

Amir Engel

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses Scholem’s formative years from his early youth and up to his decision to leave Switzerland and his companion Walter Benjamin, return to Germany and dedicate himself to the academic exploration of Jewish mysticism. It does so by analyzing Scholem’s notions of Zionism and Exile over and against some of the most important issues of the day, including, Martin Buber’s philosophy of Jewish rejuvenation, the Zionist youth movement, and World War One. Even if he was deeply taken by Buber’s thinking and deeply attached to the Zionist youth movements, Scholem was deeply critical. He was terribly disappointed by Buber’s enthusiastic endorsement of the war. And he was immensely critical of the Youth Movement’s decision to endorse the war. Zionist youth, he believed had no role fighting an imperial war on European land. This chapter thus argues that from a social and political point of view, Scholem was on the margin and in exile. And it suggests understanding his idea of ‘Zion’ as an attempt to imagine a rectified reality, which not yet exists. This chapter also discusses Scholem’s complex relations with Walter Benjamin.

Keywords:   Martin Buber, exile, myth, World War One, The Youth Movement, Zionism, Jung Juda, Walter Benjamin, WWI

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