Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972) was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. Heschel, a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, authored a number of widely read books on Jewish philosophy and was active in the civil rights movement.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Heschel in 1964
|Born||January 11, 1907|
|Died||December 23, 1972 (aged 65)|
Sylvia Straus (m. 1946)
Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in 1907 as the youngest of six children of Moshe Mordechai and Reizel Perlow. He was descended from preeminent European rabbis on both sides of his family. His paternal great-great-grandfather and namesake was Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt in present-day Poland. His mother was also a descendant of Avraham Yehoshua Heshel and other Hasidic dynasties. His siblings were Sarah, Dvora Miriam, Esther Sima, Gittel, and Jacob. Their father Moshe died of influenza in 1916 when Abraham was nine.
After a traditional yeshiva education and studying for Orthodox rabbinical ordination semicha, Heschel pursued his doctorate at the University of Berlin and a liberal rabbinic ordination at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. There he studied under some of the finest Jewish educators of the time: Chanoch Albeck, Ismar Elbogen, Julius Guttmann, and Leo Baeck. His mentor in Berlin was David Koigen. Heschel later taught Talmud at the Hochschule. He joined a Yiddish poetry group, Jung Vilna, and in 1933, published a volume of Yiddish poems, Der Shem Hamefoyrosh: Mentsch, dedicated to his father.
In late October 1938, when Heschel was living in a rented room in the home of a Jewish family in Frankfurt, he was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Poland. He spent ten months lecturing on Jewish philosophy and Torah at Warsaw's Institute for Jewish Studies. Six weeks before the German invasion of Poland, Heschel left Warsaw for London with the help of Julian Morgenstern, president of Hebrew Union College, who had been working to obtain visas for Jewish scholars in Europe.
Heschel's sister Esther was killed in a German bombing. His mother was murdered by the Nazis, and two other sisters, Gittel and Devorah, died in Nazi concentration camps. He never returned to Germany, Austria or Poland. He once wrote, "If I should go to Poland or Germany, every stone, every tree would remind me of contempt, hatred, murder, of children killed, of mothers burned alive, of human beings asphyxiated."
Heschel arrived in New York City in March 1940. He served on the faculty of Hebrew Union College (HUC), the main seminary of Reform Judaism, in Cincinnati for five years. In 1946, he took a position at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in New York City, the main seminary of Conservative Judaism. He served as professor of Jewish ethics and Mysticism until his death in 1972.
Heschel married Sylvia Straus, a concert pianist, on December 10, 1946, in Los Angeles. Their daughter, Susannah Heschel, became a Jewish scholar in her own right. Heschel's papers are held in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University.
Heschel explicated many facets of Jewish thought, including studies on medieval Jewish philosophy, Kabbalah, and Hasidic philosophy. According to some scholars, he was more interested in spirituality than in critical text study; the latter was a specialty of many scholars at JTS. He was not given a graduate assistant for many years and was relegated to teach mainly in the education school or Rabbinical school, not in the academic graduate program. Heschel became friendly with his colleague Mordecai Kaplan. Though they differed in their approach to Judaism, they had a very cordial relationship and visited each other's homes from time to time.
He also specifically criticized what he called "pan-halakhism", or an exclusive focus upon religiously compatible behavior to the neglect of the non-legalistic dimension of rabbinic tradition.
Heschel is a widely read Jewish theologian whose most influential works include Man Is Not Alone, God in Search of Man, The Sabbath, and The Prophets. At the Vatican Council II, as representative of American Jews, Heschel persuaded the Catholic Church to eliminate or modify passages in its liturgy that demeaned the Jews, or referred to an expected conversion to Christianity. His theological works argued that religious experience is a fundamentally human impulse, not just a Jewish one. He believed that no religious community could claim a monopoly on religious truth.
The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man is a work on the nature and celebration of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. This work is rooted in the thesis that Judaism is a religion of time, not space, and that the Sabbath symbolizes the sanctification of time.
Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion offers Heschel's views on how people can comprehend God. Judaism views God as being radically different from humans, so Heschel explores the ways that Judaism teaches that a person may have an encounter with the ineffable. A recurring theme in this work is the radical amazement that people feel when experiencing the presence of the Divine. Heschel then goes on to explore the problems of doubts and faith; what Judaism means by teaching that God is one; the essence of humanity and the problem of human needs; the definition of religion in general and of Judaism in particular; and human yearning for spirituality. He offers his views as to Judaism being a pattern for life.
God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism is a companion volume to Man Is Not Alone. In this book Heschel discusses the nature of religious thought, how thought becomes faith, and how faith creates responses in the believer. He discusses ways that people can seek God's presence, and the radical amazement that we receive in return. He offers a criticism of nature worship; a study of humanity's metaphysical loneliness, and his view that we can consider God to be in search of humanity. The first section concludes with a study of Jews as a chosen people. Section two deals with the idea of revelation, and what it means for one to be a prophet. This section gives us his idea of revelation as an event, as opposed to a process. This relates to Israel's commitment to God. Section three discusses his views of how a Jew should understand the nature of Judaism as a religion. He discusses and rejects the idea that mere faith (without law) alone is enough, but then cautions against rabbis he sees as adding too many restrictions to Jewish law. He discusses the need to correlate ritual observance with spirituality and love, the importance of Kavanah (intention) when performing mitzvot. He engages in a discussion of religious behaviorism—when people strive for external compliance with the law, yet disregard the importance of inner devotion.
This work started out as his PhD thesis in German, which he later expanded and translated into English. Originally published in a two-volume edition, this work studies the books of the Hebrew prophets. It covers their lives and the historical context that their missions were set in, summarizes their work, and discusses their psychological state. In it Heschel puts forward what would become a central idea in his theology: that the prophetic (and, ultimately, Jewish) view of God is best understood not as anthropomorphic (that God takes human form) but rather as anthropopathic—that God has human feelings.
In his book The Prophets, Abraham Joshua Heschel describes the unique aspect of the Jewish prophets as compared to other similar figures. Whereas other nations have soothsayers and diviners who attempt to discover the will of their gods, according to Heschel the Hebrew prophets are characterized by their experience of what he calls theotropism—God turning towards humanity. Heschel argues for the view of Hebrew prophets as receivers of the "Divine Pathos", of the wrath and sorrow of God over his nation that has forsaken him. In this view, prophets do not speak for God so much as they remind their audience of God's voice for the voiceless, the poor and oppressed.
Prophecy is the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor, to the profane riches of the world. It is a form of living, a crossing point of God and man. God is raging in the prophet's words.
Many consider Heschel's Torah min HaShamayim BeAspaklariya shel HaDorot, (Torah from Heaven in the mirror of the generations) to be his masterwork. The three volumes of this work are a study of classical rabbinic theology and aggadah, as opposed to halakha (Jewish law.) It explores the views of the rabbis in the Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash about the nature of Torah, the revelation of God to mankind, prophecy, and the ways that Jews have used scriptural exegesis to expand and understand these core Jewish texts. In this work, Heschel views the 2nd century sages Rabbi Akiva and Ishmael ben Elisha as paradigms for the two dominant world-views in Jewish theology
Two Hebrew volumes were published during his lifetime by Soncino Press, and the third Hebrew volume was published posthumously by JTS Press in the 1990s. An English translation of all three volumes, with notes, essays and appendices, was translated and edited by Rabbi Gordon Tucker, entitled Heavenly Torah: As Refracted Through the Generations. In its own right it can be the subject of intense study and analysis, and provides insight into the relationship between God and Man beyond the world of Judaism and for all Monotheism.
Heschel wrote a series of articles, originally in Hebrew, on the existence of prophecy in Judaism after the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. These essays were translated into English and published as Prophetic Inspiration After the Prophets: Maimonides and Others by the American Judaica publisher Ktav.
The publisher of this book states, "The standard Jewish view is that prophecy ended with the ancient prophets, somewhere early in the Second Temple era. Heschel demonstrated that this view is not altogether accurate. Belief in the possibility of continued prophetic inspiration, and in its actual occurrence appear throughout much of the medieval period, and even in modern times. Heschel's work on prophetic inspiration in the Middle Ages originally appeared in two long Hebrew articles. In them he concentrated on the idea that prophetic inspiration was possible even in post-Talmudic times, and, indeed, had taken place at various times and in various schools, from the Geonim to Maimonides and beyond."
Four schools have been named for Heschel, in the Upper West Side of New York City, Northridge, California, Agoura Hills, California, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2009, a highway in Missouri was named "Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel Highway" after a Springfield, Missouri area Neo-Nazi group cleaned the stretch of highway as part of an "Adopt-A-Highway" plan. Heschel's daughter, Susannah, has objected to the adoption of her father's name in this context.
1972 in philosophy89th Street (Manhattan)
89th Street runs from Riverside Drive, overlooking the Hudson River, to the East River, through the New York City borough of Manhattan. The street is interrupted by Central Park. It runs through the Upper West Side, Carnegie Hill and Yorkville neighborhoods.
The street begins on Riverside Drive overlooking Riverside Park and the Hudson River at the site of the magnificent, Classical, marble Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument.
The first building on the north side of the street at its western end is 173-175 Riverside Drive, a co-operative apartment building with entrances on both 89th and 90th Streets. On the south side of the street stands the former Isaac Rice mansion, now Yeshiva Ketana of Manhattan and a designated New York City Landmark.
The Dalton School, the Dwight School, and the Abraham Joshua Heschel School are all located on 89th Street.
The block between Amsterdam Avenue and Columbus Avenue has the old Claremont Riding Academy, now an extension of the Gaynor School, the West Side Community Garden and the restored 1890s Public School 166, a much admired Collegiate Gothic building in glazed terra cotta.The block between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West is tree-shaded and lined with beautiful restored town houses. The corner of Central Park West is marked by The St. Urban, an apartment building "splendidly crowned by dome and cupola".To the east of Central Park, the street passes the 89th street facade of the National Academy of Design in a block of handsome town houses. Between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue is a handsome gothic Revival church, built by the Episcopalians in 1870, it became a Reformed Church and is now the Roman Catholic Church of St. Thomas More. The block between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue has a row of "spectacularly romantic" Queen Anne style town houses.East 89th Street is cosigned as Fred Lebow Place between Fifth and Madison Avenues, honoring the founder of the New York City Marathon. This block also contains the offices of the New York Road Runners.
The street ends at Carl Schurz Park on the East River.Abraham Joshua Heschel School
The Abraham Joshua Heschel School (AJHS) is a pluralistic Nursery to 12 Jewish day school in New York City named in memory of one of the great Jewish leaders, teachers, and activists of the 20th century and dedicated to the values that characterized Rabbi Heschel’s life: intellectual exploration, integrity, love of the Jewish people and tradition, and a commitment to social justice. The Heschel School is a pluralistic, egalitarian community that includes families from a wide range of Jewish backgrounds, practices and beliefs.
Unlike other Jewish Day Schools or other religiously affiliated schools, The Abraham Joshua Heschel School is unique in that it had a much more liberal ideology. It was founded on the principles of Abraham Joshua Heschel who marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr. He believed in Judaism as a tradition for connection to a singular ineffable being without criticizing people who believed in other things. The school emphasizes diversity amongst its students and their differing religious traditions as well as amongst the ideas brought up by its students. The leadership values those who think differently and encourages debate.
Other "Heschel Schools" are located in Los Angeles, California and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Despite having similar names, the three schools are otherwise unrelated.Apta (Hasidic dynasty)
Apt is a Hasidic dynasty within Haredi Judaism. Its founder, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Apt, popularly known as the Apter Rebbe or Apter Rov, was born in Zhmigrid, Poland in 1748 and died in Mezhbizh, Ukraine, Russian Empire in 1825.Aron Brand
Aron Brand-Auraban (21 February 1910 – 22 April 1977) was an Israeli pediatric cardiologist. He served as chairman of the Israel Medical Association in Jerusalem, and founded the Jerusalem Academy of Medicine.David S. Goodman
David Simon Charles Goodman (born 25 February 1958 in England) is an International Master of chess, and a chess writer. Awarded the IM title in 1983, he won the World Youth Chess Championship (Cadets) in 1975. He played #10 on the English national team in Moscow in 1977. The following year he was part of the five-man English team that won the World Under-26 Team Championship in Mexico City. He was a reporter and editor for AP before becoming a full-time chess teacher in New York City in 2002. He started his career as a stringer reporting on international chess tournaments for AP, before joining the company as a full-time newsman in 1990.
Goodman was educated at Latymer Upper School in London and at Keble College, Oxford. He has a BA and honorary MA from Oxford in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
Goodman became known for helping to break the news that Soviet Defense Minister Dmitriy Ustinov was dead. The 1984–1985 Kasparov-Karpov World Championship was played in Moscow's Hall of Columns where the bodies of Soviet leaders used to lie in state. After a series of unusual timeouts at the match, Goodman was able to establish through his chess contacts that Ustinov had died.
Goodman has interviewed Woody Allen and John Cleese and covered speeches by the first President Bush and former President Gerald Ford. He is the chess teacher of Don Imus and his son and has appeared on Imus in the Morning.
He has a FIDE Elo rating of 2405.
As of December 2009, Goodman is currently a coach for the elementary school chess team of the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York City.God in Search of Man
God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism is a work on Jewish philosophy by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel saw the work's title as a paradoxical formula, rooted in the rabbinic tradition, summarizing human history as seen in the Bible: God in search of man.In God in Search of Man Heschel articulates a belief in a personal God who sees humankind as partners in creation, forging a world filled with justice and compassion.God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism is a companion volume to Heschel's earlier work Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion where he delineates experiential and philosophical interpretations of Jewish views of humanity and the world, while in God in Search of Man Heschel focuses particularly on Jewish revelation and orthopraxis.Hanoch Albeck
Hanoch Albeck (Hebrew: חנוך אלבק) (August 7, 1890 - January 9, 1972) was a professor of Talmud at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. He was one of the foremost scholars of the Mishna in his time and he was one of the founders of the scientific approach to the study of the Mishna.
Hanoch's father Shalom Albeck, known as the Talmudic scholar, was the editor of a number of works by
Rishonim including Raavan, Meiri on tractate Yevamot, and HaEshkol by Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne. Hanoch studied at the Vienna rabbinical academy and he received rabbinical ordination in 1915. In 1921 he received a degree from the University of Vienna. Between 1926 and 1936 Albeck taught in the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. In 1935 he emigrated to Mandatory Palestine where he was immediately appointed as professor and head of the Talmud department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a position he held for 25 years.
Albeck, who was a religiously observant Jew, published a number of books in Hebrew and German on rabbinical literature, including "Introduction to the Mishna", "Studies in Baraita and Tosephta", "Introduction to the Talmuds", and others. In addition, he published numerous articles in the journal Tarbiz.
Professor Albeck also wrote a simple and concise commentary on the Mishna, appending longer footnotes at the ends of each volume. Pinchas Kehati sometimes quotes this work in his own commentary on the Mishna. While the vocalization (niqqud) received special attention in Albeck's edition, the text did not merit such attention, and therefore Albeck's Mishna is not a fully scientific version of the latter. Albeck's version was written as a continuation and expansion of the uncompleted earlier work of Hayyim Nahman Bialik.
Albeck's teachers include: David Zvi Miller and Avigdor Optowitzer. His students include: the Talmudic scholar Avraham Goldberg and Abraham Joshua Heschel (one of the foremost Jewish thinkers in the 20th century).
Albeck married Hendel Weiss (the sister of Abraham Weiss), and the two had three children. Two of his children are Professor Michael Albeck, a lecturer in organic chemistry, and Professor Shalom Albeck, a lecturer in Jewish law (and the husband of advocate Pliah Albeck), both at Bar Ilan University. His grandson is Amnon Albeck a Professor of Chemistry and University’s Vice-Rector at Bar-Ilan University. Albeck's son in law, Yoseph Aryeh Bachrach, was killed in the Israeli War of Independence in the battle for Jerusalem, leaving behind a wife and two children.Ilana Gleichbloom
Ilana Gleichbloom (née Gleicher), born in 1986, is a Judaic studies teacher at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School located in New York City. She is most notable for her emphasis on feminism, appearances at the Vagina Monologues, and marriage to Australian native and public activist Daniel Bloom.Jewish existentialism
Jewish existentialism is a category of work by Jewish authors dealing with existentialist themes and concepts (e.g. debate about the existence of God and the meaning of human existence), and intended to answer theological questions that are important in Judaism. The existential angst of Job is an example from the Hebrew Bible of the existentialist theme. Theodicy and post-Holocaust theology make up a large part of 20th century Jewish existentialism.
Examples of Jewish thinkers and philosophers whose works include existentialist themes are Martin Buber, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Lev Shestov, Franz Kafka, Franz Rosenzweig, Hans Jonas, Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Emil Fackenheim.Joseph Moreau
Dr. Joseph Moreau is the American author of Schoolbook Nation, a book detailing the conflict over the teaching of American history from the Civil War onward. He is currently a history teacher at Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York City.
Moreau was born and raised in Dover, New Hampshire. He attended the University of New Hampshire for his undergraduate degree, and later received his Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan. Moreau formerly taught history at Trinity High School in New York.Neo-Hasidism
Neo-Hasidism is a name given to contemporary Jewish trends of a significant fusing or revival of interest in the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism by members of other existing Jewish movements. Among non-Orthodox Jews, this trend stems from the writings of non-Orthodox teachers of Hasidic Judaism like Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Lawrence Kushner, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Arthur Green. This is usually associated with the members of the Jewish Renewal movement. A second form of this trend is found within the Modern Orthodox Jewish community, and is referred to as Neo-Chassidus, involving those who are Modern Orthodox but have taken interest in the works of Hasidic masters.Pinchas Hacohen Peli
Pinchas Hacohen Peli (Hebrew: פינחס פֶּלִאי הכהן,
6 May 1930 - 3 April 1989) was an Israeli modern Orthodox rabbi, essayist, poet, and scholar of Judaism and Jewish philosophy.Rebecca Wallace-Segall
Rebecca Wallace-Segall (formerly Rebecca Segall) is a journalist and the founding executive director of Writopia Lab ', a national not-for-profit creative writing lab for children ages 4–18, based in New York City. Wallace-Segall began writing for publications in 1997. She has contributed opeds about education and writing to the Atlantic Monthly and the Wall Street Journal, and thought pieces to Takepart, the Huffington Post, New York Magazine, and The Nation, along with five cover stories (and other pieces) to the Village Voice. S . She also served as Senior Editor at Psychology Today magazine, and won Salon's "Best People Story of the Year Award" for "Love Labor’s Flossed." In 1999, she became a Journalism Fellow at Brandeis University. In 2003, she entered the world of comedy writing, and began writing and performing sketch comedy around NYC.
Her teaching career started in 2002 as a resident writer in New York Public schools with the Teachers & Writers Collaborative. In 2003, she began establishing the creative writing program at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in NYC. She has also taught at SUNY Albany, NYU, Katherine Gibbs School and Gotham Writers' Workshop. Wallace-Segall established Writopia Lab in 2007.
She was awarded the 2012 Ovation Inspired Teacher Award by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, for submitting the most outstanding senior portfolios on the national level and for "developing a method of working with students that inspires them to create original work that embodies their unique, personal voice.... Because of [her] tutelage... these students are now empowered to bring that voice into the broader world..." She won their Gold Apple Teacher Award in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
She lectures at schools, parents' organizations, and events, such as TEDx, on "The Case for Uncensored Creative Writing in Schools," "How to Inspire the Writer Within Your Child," "Writing for High School and College Admittance," and on "Identifying and Participating in Positive Competitions."Shai Held
Rabbi Dr. Shai Held (born July 2, 1971) is a rosh yeshiva (Rabbinic dean) and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar. He holds a PhD in religion from Harvard University.
He founded Mechon Hadar in 2006 with Rabbis Elie Kaunfer and Ethan Tucker.Sienno, Masovian Voivodeship
Sienno [ˈɕennɔ] is a village in Lipsko County, Masovian Voivodeship, in east-central Poland. It is the seat of the gmina (administrative district) called Gmina Sienno. It lies some 15 kilometres (9 mi) south-west of Lipsko and 130 km (81 mi) south of Warsaw.
The village has a population of 1,000.Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is an educational center in Chicago, Illinois. Not affiliated with any single branch of Judaism, Spertus offers learning opportunities that are "rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all." Graduate programs and workshops "train leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life." Public programs include films, speakers, seminars, concerts, and exhibits — at the Institute’s main campus at 610 S. Michigan Avenue, as well as in the Chicago suburbs and online.
Spertus offers graduate degrees in Jewish Professional Studies, Jewish Studies, and until 2016, Nonprofit Management — accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools — as well as professional workshops and a range of public educational and cultural programs.
Well-known presenters have included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, author Jonathan Safran Foer, architect Moshe Safdie, hip-hop artist Y-Love, pianist/actor/playwright Hershey Felder, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Psychologist Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, and statistician Nate Silver.Honorary degree recipients from 1949 to 2011 have included Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Abba Eban, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, author and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, author and Nobel Literature Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, feminist author Betty Friedan, actor Leonard Nimoy, and Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi.Susannah Heschel
Susannah Heschel (born 15 May 1956) is an American scholar and Eli Black professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. The author and editor of numerous books and articles, she is a Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of numerous awards, including four honorary doctorates. Heschel's scholarship focuses on Jewish and Christian interactions in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is the daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel.The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt
Edited by Ruth Andrew Ellenson, The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt is an anthology featuring work by authors including Aimee Bender. It won a National Jewish Book Award in 2005. Ms. Ellenson and her father, Rabbi David Ellenson, won the National Jewish Book Award in the same year—the only father and daughter to do so since Abraham Joshua Heschel and Susannah Heschel. The book has been chosen by Hadassah as a 2007 book group selection.