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Deracination and Racialization in Martin Buber’s Hasidic Tales

Hosted By: The National Library of Israel (NLI)

Race. Hasidic Judaism. Martin Buber.

One of the 20th century’s most revered thinkers, Martin Buber is also well-known for popularizing Hasidic tales for general audiences.

A Jew and a Zionist, Buber was also of course the result of the German-speaking world in which he lived and wrote for much of his life.

Hasidic and German circles alike promoted distinctions between Jewish and non-Jewish bodies… how did Buber navigate that terrain in his German renditions of Hasidic texts?
How did racial anti-Semitism, denigrations of Ostjuden (Eastern European Jews), and volkish ideologies in Germany shape Buber’s interpretations of Hasidic sources?

Buber deracinated Hasidism, uprooting the movement from its geographic and religio-cultural particularities in order to inspire diverse audiences, yet at the same time, that deracination also served to racialize the Hasidic body.

In effect, Buber’s tales intimated that even assimilated, “Western” Jews might identify with a primal Jewishness that lay beneath Hasidic garments, as it were.

Join Sam Shonkoff, scholar of Hasidism and German-Jewish thought, for a fascinating discussion of race based on his extensive research in the Martin Buber Archive at the National Library of Israel.

8pm-9pm IDT
1pm-2pm EST

The event listed here is hosted by a third party. My Jewish Learning/70 Faces Media is not responsible for its content or for errors in the listing.


Sam Shonkoff

Sam Shonkoff (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the GTU, where he teaches on Jewish religious thought, modern Jewish cultures, and methods in theology, ethics, and the historical-cultural study of religions. His research focuses primarily on German-Jewish thought and Hasidism, as well as appropriations of Hasidic spirituality in relatively secular spheres.
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The National Library of Israel (NLI)

The National Library of Israel serves as the dynamic institution of collective memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths – past, present and future. Through its world-class collections and a range of innovative digital, educational and cultural initiatives, the National Library works to share the stories of the Jewish people, the State of Israel, the Land of Israel and its region.
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