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At the Crossroads

Essays on Ahad Ha'am

Jacques Kornberg

Publication Year: 1983

A founding father of modern Israel, Ahad Haam (18561927) was one of the shapers of the contemporary Zionist consciousness. His career spanned the era of Russian Jewry’s nationalist awakening. During the last decade of the nineteenth century, he was the leading theorist of the Russian Zionist movement. Afterwards, he was overshadowed by Theodore Herzl, who imposed his own stamp on Zionism. With the failure of Herzl’s diplomacy and his early death in 1904, Russian Zionists abandoned Herzl’s priorities and gradually refashioned the program of the Zionist organization in their own image. More than anyone else, Ahad Haam provided the ideological authority for this shift.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The idea for a collection of essays on Ahad Ha-Am grew out of animated discussions among a circle of Jewish scholars at the University of Toronto about nothing less than Jewish and Zionist possibilities in the modern world. As we surveyed the field of possible guides to such...


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pp. ix-xi

Glossary and Note on Transliteration

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pp. xii-xiv

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At the Crossroads: An Introductory Essay

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pp. xv-xxvii

Asher Ginsberg (Ahad Ha-Am) was born in 1856 in Skvira in Kiev province. He died in Tel Aviv in 1927, having settled in Palestine in 1922. As a youth, he received a traditional Jewish education, but he was soon drawn to the literature of the Haskalah. In 1884 he moved to...

Part I: The Revival of Hebrew

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pp. 1

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1. Ahad Ha-Am and the Essay: The Vicissitudes of Reason

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pp. 3-11

When the history of the Hebrew essay is eventually written, we shall likely come to a better understanding of Ahad Ha-Am's achievement. As a literary innovator, he combined the imaginative freedom of the Russian-Hebrew feuilleton with the polemical earnestness...

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2. Ahad Ha-Am's Role in the Revival and Development of Hebrew

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pp. 12-27

If, toward the end of the nineteenth century, Jewish life in Europe was "at the crossroads," the same can be said of the Hebrew language. While the position of Hebrew in orthodox life in Central and Eastern Europe was unchanged, orthodoxy itself was assailed by the twin forces of...

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3. Ahad Ha-Am, The Editor of Ha-Shilo'ah

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pp. 28-35

In 1896 Kalonymus Wissotzky, at the suggestion of Simon Dubnow and Mendele Mokher Seforim, allocated five thousand rubles as a capital fund to subsidize the publication of a new Hebrew monthly, on condition that Ahad Ha-Am be its editor.1 Wissotzky's offer coincided...

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4. Ahad Ha-Am and Smolenskin

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pp. 36-45

Peretz Smolenskin (1842-1885) and Asher Ginsberg (1856-1927), better known by his pseudonym, Ahad Ha-Am, are usually regarded as the most powerful and influential publicists of two successive literary generations. Although Ahad Ha-Am's first article was not published until...

Part II: Major Issues and Controversies

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pp. 47

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5. The Ahad Ha-Am and Berdyczewski Polarity

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pp. 49-59

A rapid reading of this brief note, one of the shortest in Ahad Ha-Am's six volumes of letters, reveals the characteristically controlled, correct tone of his style, evident even in his letters and autobiographical writings. But there is a strange, discordant note in this brief document. ...

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6. Ahad Ha-.Am and Dubnow: Friends and Adversaries

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pp. 60-72

In June 1886 Asher Ginsberg, almost thirty years old and engaged in business undertakings with his father, moved his family from the Ukrainian village of Gopitshitza to the city of Odessa. Four years later, Simon Dubnow arrived in Odessa from the Belorussian town of Mstislavl. ...

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7. Ahad Ha-Am and "Ahad Ha-Amism": The Onset of Crisis

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pp. 73-83

The Minsk Conference of Russian Zionistsl held in 1902 marked the cresting point of Ahad Ha-Am's prestige in the Jewish world. Coming as it did in the aftermath of successful demonstrations by Ahad Ha-Am's "disciples", the Democratic Party2 of the 1901 Zionist...

Part III: In the Political Arena

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pp. 85

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8. The Zionist as Thinker: Ahad Ha-Amand Hibbat Zion

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pp. 87-97

The history of Zionism up to the outbreak of the Great War is to no small degree a function of the ebb and flow of that tendency within it which it is customary to call Hibbat Zion. Hibbat Zion, as a more or less identifiable strain in modem Jewry, preceded the Zionist movement proper as...

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9. Ahad Ha-Am and Benei Moshe: An "Unsuccessful Experiment"?

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pp. 98-105

Benei Moshe was a secret order within Hibbat Zion. It was founded in 1889 around Ahad Ha-Am, with his doctrine as its inspiration and guide. One of Benei Moshe's most distinguished members was the journalist and editor Ben-Avigdor (Abraham Leib Shalkovich), a disciple of...

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10. Ahad Ha-Am and Herzl

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pp. 106-129

When he embarked upon his campaign for a Jewish state, Herzl assumed that West European Jewry would provide the diplomatic and financial resources whereas East European Jewry would offer up its petitions and its desperate need. It was only after his rejection by the Jewish...

Part IV: Influence and Continuity

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pp. 131

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11. Ahad Ha-Amism in American Zionist Thought

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pp. 133-141

Spanning several generations, from the first decade of the century to the 1950s, Ahad Ha-Am was a major and enduring intellectual influence on American Zionists. Indeed his influence extended beyond Zionism to American Judaism itself. At the same time, American Jews trimmed...

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12. Ahad Ha-Am, Martin Buber, and German Zionism

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pp. 142-155

To analyze the attitude of Ahad Ha-Am toward German Zionism or to examine his influence on the German segment of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) poses difficult methodological problems. For one, there are very few passages in Ahad Ha-Am's writings which refer directly...

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13. The Disciple, Chaim Weizmann

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pp. 156-169

Sir Leon Simon, a devoted admirer who was also a shrewd and judicious observer, said of Ahad Ha-Am, "Many of his ideas . . . became part of the stock in trade of Jewish writers and public men who often had no notion of their source."1 ...


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pp. 170-203

Index [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 204-207

E-ISBN-13: 9781438409542
E-ISBN-10: 1438409540
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873957380
Print-ISBN-10: 0873957385

Page Count: 242
Publication Year: 1983