Abraham Joshua Heschel: Mind, Heart, Soul

Jewish Society. Nov. 2019. 488p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780827614741. $34.95. REL
American Polish rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–72) was a man apart, an increasingly rare example of scholarly yet religious leadership in which words and actions came together. Pope Paul VI praised Heschel, who was present at Vatican II, as the “sometimes lonely witness of the great and wise rabbi.” He was the only eulogist at the funeral of Reformed theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1971 and spoke on a panel with Jesse Jackson in 1972 to honor the memory of the slain Martin Luther King Jr. On occasion, Heschel purposely wrote in Yiddish because it was “the language of dissent.” Accolades aside, this intellectual as well as spiritual biography by Kaplan (Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities Emeritus, Brandeis Univ., MA), illuminates how the son of Polish Hasidic nobility from Warsaw rose to spectacular heights, fueled primarily by his desire to empower the culturally powerless. While The Prophets (1962) remains Heschel’s best known work in academic settings, here his selected bibliography run nearly 20 pages.
VERDICT A worthy introduction to a religious and philosophical leader.

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