In This Hour: Heschel’s Writings in Nazi Germany and London Exile

Jewish Publication Society. Jun. 2019. 240p. ed. by ed. by Helen Plotkin. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780827613225. $29.95. REL
Rabbi, historian, and philosopher, Heschel (1907–72) left Warsaw for Berlin when he was 20, experiencing the full measure of institutionalized German anti-Semitism. Deported and ghettoized, the author eventually escaped to the United States in 1940. These translated essays represent only that material from his years in Germany and a few months in England (1936–37) when he wrote primarily in German. Heschel is mostly remembered for his masterful work, The Prophets (1963). This collection contains other unpublished texts that highlight Heschel’s profound and deep appreciation for Jewish learning as the key to Jewish identity; he writes, “Jewish literature is not a dead past but the immediate present.” Heschel obliquely wrestles with the question of Jewish historiography: Is Jewish history merely valorized memory or is Jewish education, as the bearer of living tradition, equipping individuals for their spiritual destiny?
VERDICT Some essays are well-fleshed out; others are fragmentary thoughts or marginal notes. Yet Heschel’s is a mind truly awake to the power of a realized spiritual destiny through learning. It’s worth the time to sit with this teacher.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month