Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972

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9780300151398: Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972
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The first full account of the life of one of America’s greatest religious thinkers during World War II and in the decades afterward

Born in Warsaw, raised in a Hasidic community, and reaching maturity in secular Jewish Vilna and cosmopolitan Berlin, Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) escaped Nazism and immigrated to the United States in 1940. This lively and readable book tells the comprehensive story of his life and work in America, his politics and personality, and how he came to influence not only Jewish debate but also wider religious and cultural debates in the postwar decades.

A worthy sequel to his widely praised biography of Heschel’s early years, Edward Kaplan’s new volume draws on previously unseen archives, FBI files, interviews with people who knew Heschel, and analyses of his extensive writings. Kaplan explores Heschel’s shy and private side, his spiritual radicalism, and his vehement defense of the Hebrew prophets’ ideal of absolute integrity and truth in ethical and political life. Of special interest are Heschel’s interfaith activities, including a secret meeting with Pope Paul VI during Vatican II, his commitment to civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr., his views on the state of Israel, and his opposition to the Vietnam War. A tireless challenger to spiritual and religious complacency, Heschel stands as a dramatically important witness.

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About the Author:

Edward K. Kaplan is Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities at Brandeis University where he teaches courses in French, comparative literature, and religious studies. He has been writing on Heschel for many years, and his publications include Holiness in Words: A. J. Heschel’s Poetics of Piety. He lives in West Newton, MA.

Review:

“This is a prodigiously researched, sound, and important book. Spiritual Radical  is a substantial achievement, a work of love and devotion and real biographical acumen.”—Steven Zipperstein, Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History, Stanford University
(Steven Zipperstein)

“This second volume of Kaplan’s biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel is an important work by any standard. The care with which it is assembled and the research upon which it is based is truly inspiring. Spiritual Radical is clearly written, insightful, honest.”—Adam Seligman, author of Modest Claims, Dialogues and Essays on Tolerance and Tradition

(Adam Seligman)

"This religiously contentious world needs the noble witness of Abraham Joshua Heschel more than ever. Edward K. Kaplan's lucid and compelling account of Heschel's life in America is an urgently important book."—James Carroll, author of House of War
(James Carroll)

“Kaplan has written a biography that will be appreciated and enjoyed by all those who struggle to be at home in America, and for all those who struggle to be at home with God.”—Martin Kavka, Florida State University (Martin Kavka)

"During a time when deep religious belief is so often associated with intolerance and intransigence, it is refreshing to be reminded that Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King, Jr., once joined in a prophetic, morally courageous pursuit of peace and social justice."—Clayborne Carson, Director, Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University
(Clayborne Carson)

"This is a meticulously researched, beautifully written biography that captures the life and thought of a great man."—Harold Kasimow, Shofar (Harold Kasimow Shofar 2008-10-01)

"Kaplan presents [Heschel] through a prism that is at once objective and warm. This is a book to be appreciated by academics, rabbis and general readers alike."—Richard Libowitz, The Reconstructionist (Richard Libowitz The Reconstructionist 2007-09-01)

"Kaplan deserves praise for writing a well-documented account of Heschel's life and activities between 1940 and his death in 1972."—Jason Kalman, American Jewish Archives Journal (Jason Kalman American Jewish Archives Journal)

"Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America provides a fascinating and much-needed acount of this legendary figure's experiences in America."—Noam Pianko, American Jewish History (Noam Pianko American Jewish History)

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9780300115406: Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972

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Publisher: Yale University Press, 2007
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