Cite: Geller, On the Germanness of Gershom Scholem

Geller, Jay Howard. “From Berlin and Jerusalem: On the Germanness of Gershom Scholem.” Journal of Religious History 35.2 (2011): 211-232.





Although Gershom Scholem, one of the leading Judaic studies scholars of modern times, was born and raised in Germany, he consistently represented himself as an un-German Jew. Rejection of Germany and Germanness was a leitmotif of Scholem’s self-presentation, particularly after immigrating to Jerusalem in 1923. Scholem became a central figure in the Jewish intelligentsia of mandate-era Palestine and later the state of Israel, and he helped shape Jewish discourse around the world. However, a re-examination of his unpublished and published correspondence, youthful journals, writings and interviews, and actual actions demonstrates that Scholem must also be seen as a German intellectual whose lifelong intellectual, political, social, and cultural predilections were the products of the German Jewish bourgeoisie and the German intelligentsia at the turn of the twentieth century. Long after emigrating from Germany, Scholem remained marked by Germanness and an ongoing relationship with Germany.

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