This article offers a critical reading of Gershom Scholem's memoir, From Berlin to Jerusalem, by contrasting it with the memoir of another German Jewish intellectual, Salomon Maimon. Ostensibly, these two memoirs tell opposite stories. Maimon (1753–1800) grew up in an orthodox environment in a decrepit Jewish town in eastern Europe but left it behind to travel to Berlin and dedicate his life to philosophy in the tradition of the German enlightenment. Scholem (1897–1982), born a century and a half later to a middle-class acculturated Jewish family in Berlin, left it behind to dedicate his life to Zionism and the study of forgotten Jewish texts. As Engel argues here, however, these two stories complement each other. Both Scholem and Maimon tried to define a Jewish way of life while living in a world disenchanted by modern philosophy and science. The comparison reveals Scholem in a new role: not as the great innovator of Jewish life but as a part of a German Jewish tradition dating at least to Maimon's time.
Amir Engel; Reading Gershom Scholem in Context: Salomon Maimon's and Gershom Scholem's German Jewish Discourse on Jewish Mysticism. New German Critique 1 February 2014; 41 (1 (121)): 33–54. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2077726
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