The Schmooze

Pen Pals Reunited: Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt

The friendship between the great kabbalist Gershom Scholem and the political scientist Hannah Arendt famously foundered in the 1960s after a disagreement over Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” an account, of the trial of the Nazi war criminal.

Scholem reproached Arendt for a lack of “ahavath Yisrael,” to which Arendt readily concurred that she lacked “ahavath” for any national or political group per se, a stance which Scholem could not abide. Happily, the collected correspondence of Scholem and Arendt, out on October 11 from Suhrkamp Verlag (Hannah Arendt / Gershom Scholem: Der Briefwechsel, 1939-1964), offers welcome background and amplification of the lengthy relationship between these two brilliant minds.

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Pen Pals Reunited: Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt

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