On Zion: The History of an Idea

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Syracuse University Press, 1997 - History - 165 pages
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On Zion grew out of a series of lectures delivered by Buber in 1944. World War II was still raging. News of extermination of Jews reached the West; the British administration of Palestine refused entry to Jewish refugees. The Palestinian Arabs offered stiff resistance to Zionism. Buber's political orientation called for a binational state and for equality of rights for both Jews and Arabs. But, just as strongly, he insisted on the sacred, ethical mission implied in Zionism. Buber illustrates his strong faith by analyzing the centrality of Zion to biblical and talmudic thought, how it inspired medieval thinkers and mystics, and how it moved modern Jews from Moses Hess to Rav Kook and A.D. Gordon.

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About the author (1997)

Martin Buber was born in Vienna, the son of Solomon Buber, a scholar of Midrashic and medieval literature. Martin Buber studied at the universities of Vienna, Leipzig, Zurich, and Berlin, under Wilhelm Dilthey and Georg Simmel. As a young student, he joined the Zionist movement, advocating the renewal of Jewish culture as opposed to Theodor Herzl's political Zionism. At age 26 he became interested in Hasidic thought and translated the tales of Nahman of Bratslav. Hasidism had a profound impact on Buber's thought. He credited it as being the inspiration for his theories of spirituality, community, and dialogue. Buber is responsible for bringing Hasidism to the attention of young German intellectuals who previously had scorned it as the product of ignorant eastern European Jewish peasants. Buber also wrote about utopian socialism, education, Zionism, and respect for the Palestinian Arabs, and, with Franz Rosenzweig, he translated the Bible. He was appointed to a professorship at the University of Frankfurt in 1925, but, when the Nazis came to power, he received an appointment at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Buber died in 1965.

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