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The Other New York Jewish Intellectuals

Carole Kessner

Publication Year: 1994

Irving Howe. Saul Bellow. Lionel Trilling. These are names that immediately come to mind when one thinks of the New York Jewish intellectuals of the late thirties and forties.

And yet the New York Jewish intellectual community was far larger and more diverse than is commonly thought. In The Other New York Jewish Intellectuals we find a group of thinkers who may not have had widespread celebrity status but who fostered a real sense of community within the Jewish world in these troubled times. What unified these men and women was their commitment and allegiance to the Jewish people.

Here we find Hayim Greenberg, Henry Hurwitz, Marie Syrkin, Maurice Samuel, Ben Halperin, Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, Morris Raphael Cohen, Ludwig Lewisohn, Milton Steinberg, Will Herberg, A. M. Klein, and Mordecai Kaplan, and many others. Divided into 3 sections--Opinion Makers, Men of Letters, and Spiritual Leaders--the book will be of particular interest to students and others interested in Jewish studies, American intellectual history, as well as history of the 30s and 40s.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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List of Illustrations

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p. xi-xi

The idea for a volume devoted to the many committed Jewish intellectuals who were influential and played an important role in American Jewish life in the critical years of the 1930s, 1940s, and . . .

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pp. 1-22

Everyone knows the New York Jewish Intellectuals; but this book is not about them. This is about another group of intellectual Jews who lived and worked mainly in New York, men and women who . . .

PART ONE Opinion Makers

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CHAPTER 1 Hayim Greenberg, Jewish Intellectual

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pp. 25-50

If an intellectual is a person who lives in the world of ideas, Hayim Greenberg represents the twentieth-century intellectual most at home in Jewish ideas. Caught up in the world of action, Greenberg . . .

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CHAPTER 2 Marie Syrkin: An Exemplary Life

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pp. 51-70

At the end of her life, Marie Syrkin said, "Today I can write with as much passion about old age as I once could about love."1 The following verse, from a poem entitled "Of Age," written when she

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CHAPTER 3 Ben Halpern: "At Home in Exile"

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pp. 71-100

From 1936, when he entered Jewish "communal civil service," as Halpern himself put it, until his death in 1990, an emeritus professor of modern Jewish history at Brandeis University, Ben Halpern . . .

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CHAPTER 4 Trude Weiss-Rosmarin and the Jewish Spectator

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pp. 101-121

Trude Weiss-Rosmarin arrived in New York City in 1931. In her early twenties and recently married, she already possessed considerable intellectual credentials: academic, educational, and political. . . .

PART TWO Men of Letters

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CHAPTER 5 Morris Raphael Cohen

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pp. 125-143

Morris Raphael Cohen and Horace M. Kallen were, I submit, the two most intensely Jewish thinkers, not only of their time, but in the entire sweep of American history. One difference between them . . .

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CHAPTER 6 Horace M. Kallen

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pp. 144-159

For about a half-century, Horace Kallen occupied a special—for many of these years, a unique—place on the Jewish scene in the United States. For he was not a professional Jew, not a rabbi, not a . . .

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CHAPTER 7 Ludwig Lewisohn: A Life in Zionism

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pp. 160-190

Ludwig Lewisohn, Berlin-born, South Carolina-raised, was at most twenty-one when he came to New York in the fall of 1903 to study literature at Columbia University. His years in the . . .

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CHAPTER 8 Henry Hurwitz: Editor, Gadfly, Dreamer

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pp. 191-205

The tens of thousands of Jews who reached these shores at the beginning of this century, "yearning to breathe free," did not find a goldene medinah. The adults struggled to make a living; and the . . .

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CHAPTER 9 "Not the Recovery of a Grave, but of a Cradle": The Zionist Life of Marvin Lowenthal

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pp. 206-227

To contemporaries, the year 1917 had an almost messianic quality. The outbreak of the Russian Revolution promising in its wake the establishment of a just society, the disintegration of the . . .

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CHAPTER 10 The Education of Maurice Samuel

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pp. 228-246

Maurice Samuel occupies a singular position among the ranks of American Jewish intellectuals. He played a major role in the emergence of the American Jew's sense of Jewish identity and in the . . .

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CHAPTER 11 Charles Reznikoff

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pp. 247-267

When it comes to literary recognition, it might be said that the first hundred years are always the hardest. I mean, of course, true and lasting recognition, not an ephemeral simulacrum of it, which may . . .

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CHAPTER 12 A. M. Klein: The Intellectual As a True Ohev Israel

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pp. 268-287

An examination of A. M. Klein's stature as a Canadian and Zionist intellectual against the coterie of the New York Jewish Intellectuals reveals the irony of inverse symmetry. Despite their . . .

PART THREE Spiritual Leaders

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CHAPTER 13 Mordecai M. Kaplan

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pp. 291-312

In a life that spanned over a century (1881-1983), Mordecai M. Kaplan frequently anticipated the decades to come. His mind was always on the future, but he never lost sight of the fact that the . . .

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CHAPTER 14 Milton Steinberg

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pp. 313-352

Among the rabbis who preached in American synagogues and were active in Jewish organizational life during the 1930s and 1940s, none was more gifted intellectually than Milton Steinberg. His brilliant . . .

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CHAPTER 15 Will Herberg

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pp. 353-365

When Will Herberg died in March of 1977, American Judaism lost one of its most provocative religious thinkers of the post-World War II generation. Like Herman Cohen and Franz Rosenzweig . . .


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pp. 371-382


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pp. 392-404

E-ISBN-13: 9780814748527
E-ISBN-10: 081474852x
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814746608
Print-ISBN-10: 0814746608

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 1994

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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • Jews -- New York (State) -- New York -- Intellectual life.
  • Intellectuals -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • Zionists -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • Jewish scholars -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • Jewish authors -- New York (State) -- New York -- Biography.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Biography.
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