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Reading Leo StraussPolitics, Philosophy, Judaism$
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Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226764023

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226763903.001.0001

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Gershom Scholem and Leo Strauss: Notes toward a German-Jewish Dialogue

Gershom Scholem and Leo Strauss: Notes toward a German-Jewish Dialogue

(p.43) Chapter Two Gershom Scholem and Leo Strauss: Notes toward a German-Jewish Dialogue
Reading Leo Strauss
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on Gershom Scholem and Leo Strauss, the two most important Jewish thinkers, whose prominence, if not preeminence, among the most important German Jewish thinkers is already secured. Despite their influence in their respective fields of kabala and political philosophy, no comparative study of their work has yet been attempted. The biographies of Scholem and Strauss present some striking parallels and contrasts. Scholem was born into a middle-class, assimilated Berlin family, the milieu of which he ridiculed mercilessly in his autobiography. From an early age, he was attracted to political Zionism and was active in the German anti-war movement during World War I, something that proved a profound embarrassment to his parents. Strauss, by contrast, was born into a religiously observant family in the Hessian village of Kirchhain that he would later describe as a home in which “the ceremonial laws were rather strictly observed,” but where “there was very little Jewish knowledge.”

Keywords:   Gershom Scholem, Leo Strauss, Berlin, Jerusalem, Hessian, Scholem, World War, anti-war movement, Kirchhain

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