This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium on xenophilia examines the life choices of two Jews who loved Christianity. Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik, born into an ultra-Orthodox, nineteenth-century rabbinic dynasty in Lithuania, spent much of his life writing a Hebrew commentary on the Gospels in order to document and argue for the symmetry or symbiosis that he perceived between Judaism and Christianity. Oswald Rufeisen, from a twentieth-century secular Zionist background in Poland, converted to Catholicism during World War II, became a monk, and attempted to immigrate to Israel as a Jew in 1958. Rufeisen, while permitted to move to Israel to join a Carmelite monastery in Haifa, was denied the right to immediate citizenship of Israel which the Law of Return guarantees to all bona fide Jews. And this particular Soloveitchik has largely been forgotten, given the limits of Jewish interest in the New Testament and of Christian attention to rabbinic literature. This article explores the complex and vexing questions that the careers of these two men raise about the elusive distinctions between Judaism and Christianity, on the one hand, and, on the other, between the Jewish religion and Jewish national identity.
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Shaul Magid; Loving Judaism through Christianity: The Cases of Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik and Oswald Rufeisen. Common Knowledge 1 January 2020; 26 (1): 88–124. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-7899599
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