New Article: Wagner, Nietzsche’s Visions and Buber’s Israel

Wagner, Karin. “Hugo Kauder’s Unexpressed Philosophical Concept: Schelling’s Transcendence, Nietzsche’s Visions and Buber’s Israel.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (early view; online first).

Hugo Kauder, born in 1888 near Prague, composer, instrumentalist, theoretician and music-philosopher, came to Vienna in 1905, left Austria after the Novemberpogrom 1938 and reached New York via the Netherlands and England in 1940. In 1938 Tel Aviv was also one of his intended havens (parts of Kauder’s estate are kept at the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem). Engaged in the crisis discourse in Vienna’s postwar period of the early 1920s, Kauder drafted his philosophical ideas under the influence of Friedrich Schelling and Friedrich Nietzsche, also speculating on music-teleology, mysticism and cosmology. Corresponding with the German philosopher Rudolf Pannwitz, with the authors Karl Wolfskehl and Erich von Kahler, Kauder expressed his Jewishness – much more as a mindset than an active Jewish identity. Coming from a system of transcendental and natural philosophy combined with Christian ideas, Kauder moved to a more complex syncretism also reflecting on Jewish topics. Kauder did not organize his ideas into a concept, they are, rather, the theoretical framework of his educational books and are widespread in his essays and letters.




New Book: Novak, Zionism and Judaism

Novak, David. Zionism and Judaism. A New Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.



Why should anyone be a Zionist, a supporter of a Jewish state in the land of Israel? Why should there be a Jewish state in the land of Israel? This book seeks to provide a philosophical answer to these questions. Although a Zionist need not be Jewish, nonetheless this book argues that Zionism is only a coherent political stance when it is intelligently rooted in Judaism, especially in the classical Jewish doctrine of God’s election of the people of Israel and the commandment to them to settle the land of Israel. The religious Zionism advocated here is contrasted with secular versions of Zionism that take Zionism to be a replacement of Judaism. It is also contrasted with versions of religious Zionism that ascribe messianic significance to the State of Israel, or which see the main task of religious Zionism to be the establishment of an Israeli theocracy.


Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Why Zionism?
  • 2. Was Spinoza the first Zionist?
  • 3. Secular Zionism: political or cultural?
  • 4. Should Israel be a theocracy?
  • 5. Why the Jews and why the land of Israel?
  • 6. Can the state of Israel be both Jewish and democratic?
  • 7. What could be the status of non-Jews in a Jewish state?
  • 8. What is the connection between the Holocaust and the state of Israel?


DAVID NOVAK holds the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair in Jewish Studies as Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Academy for Jewish Research. He is President of the Union for Traditional Judaism, and Vice President of the Institute on Religion and Public Life. Novak also serves as a Consulting Scholar for the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and as a Project Scholar for the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.


New Article: Benbassat, Yeshayahu Leibowitz: Jewish Existentialism

Benbassat, Roi. “Yeshayahu Leibowitz: Jewish Existentialism.” Religious Studies 51.2 (2015): 141-63.





This article presents Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s conception of Judaism and characterizes his position as typically religious-existentialist. It confronts Leibowitz’s conception with Kantian ethics, refutes the analogy made between these two conceptions, and shows that Leibowitz’s response to Kant is analogous to that of Kierkegaard, the Christian existentialist thinker. It considers Leibowitz’s religious position a Jewish variation of Kierkegaard’s notion of faith in the absurd. Such an analogy enables us not only to elucidate Leibowitz’s religious conception but also to evaluate the implications of Kierkegaard’s religious thought in a broader context.


Cite: Levinas’ Letter to Blanchot on the Creation of the State of Israel


The latest issue of Critical Inquiry (36.4; 2010), includes a section on a letter Emmanuel Lévinas wrote to Maurice Blanchot, and a discussion of it:


Introduction to “Letter to Maurice Blanchot on the Creation of the State of Israel”

Sarah Hammerschlag

Critical Inquiry Summer 2010, Vol. 36, No. 4: 642-644.
Citation | Full Text | PDF Version (24 KB)

Letter to Maurice Blanchot on the Creation of the State of Israel

Emmanuel Lévinas (trans. Sarah Hammerschlag)

Critical Inquiry Summer 2010, Vol. 36, No. 4: 645-648.
Citation | Full Text | PDF Version (29 KB)

The Final Meeting between Emmanuel Lévinas and Maurice Blanchot

Michaël Lévinas

Critical Inquiry Summer 2010, Vol. 36, No. 4: 649-651.
Citation | Full Text | PDF Version (24 KB)

Literary Unrest: Blanchot, Lévinas, and the Proximity of Judaism

Sarah Hammerschlag

Critical Inquiry Summer 2010, Vol. 36, No. 4: 652-672.
Citation | Full Text | PDF Version (98 KB)

New Publication: Pianko, Zionism and the Roads Not Taken

Pianko, Noam. Zionism and the Roads Not Taken. Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.






Keywords: Zionism, Philosophy, Simon Rawidowicz, Mordecai Kaplan, Hans Kohn, Zionism: Criticism, Political Theory

Cite: Ackerman, Religious Dimension of a Secular Jewish Renewal

Ackerman, Ari. "Eliezer Schweid on the Religious Dimension of a Secular Jewish Renewal." Modern Judaism 30,2 (2010): 209-228.


Keywords: Zionism, Philosophy, Israel: Religion, Jewish Identity, Eliezer Schweid, אליעזר שביד

Prize: Mark and Ruth Luckens International Prize in Jewish Thought, 2011

Mark and Ruth Luckens International Prize in Jewish Thought, 2011


The University of Kentucky is pleased to sponsor the Mark and Ruth Luckens International Prize in Jewish Thought. The Luckens Prize, commemorating a generous gift by the late Dr. Mark M. Luckens to the University, is administered, judged, and awarded by faculty at the University of Kentucky. The Prize is awarded annually for an essay in the field of Jewish thought by a graduate student or recent PhD or someone of equivalent status.

General details of the competition are that the essay should be original and unpublished, and of around 5000 words. The winner will receive a cash award of $1000 and is expected to deliver a lecture based on the essay on campus during the Spring Semester 2011, for which travel and ground expenses shall be provided. The lecture should be given in English but the essay can be written in any language the selection committee can read.

Essays are due no later than  November 1 2010. The result of the competition will be announced no later than January 15 2011.

The winner of the 2010 prize is Devorah Shubowitz from Indiana University for an essay on Orthodox Jewish women’s scholarly efforts for religious and legal change.

Any inquiries should be directed to Oliver Leaman. Essays should be directed to him as either an email attachment or in paper form, or both.

Oliver Leaman
Director, Judaic Studies Program
University of Kentucky
1415 Patterson Office Tower
Lexington KY 40506-0027