Abraham Joshua Heschel: Mind, Heart, Soul
Hardcover – Abridged, November 1, 2019
Kaplan takes readers on a soulful journey through the rollercoaster challenges and successes of Heschel’s emotional life. As a child he was enveloped in a Hasidic community of Warsaw, then he went on to explore secular Jewish Vilna and cosmopolitan Berlin. He improvised solutions to procure his doctorate in Nazi-dominated Berlin, escaped the Nazis, and secured a rare visa to the United States. He articulated strikingly original interpretations of Jewish ideas. His relationships spanned not only the Jewish denominational spectrum but also Catholic and Protestant faith communities. A militant voice for nonviolent social action, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. (who became a close friend), expressed strong opposition to the Vietnam War (while the FBI compiled a file on him), and helped reverse long-standing antisemitic Catholic Church doctrine on Jews (participating in a secret meeting with Pope Paul VI during Vatican II).
From such prodigiously documented stories Heschel himself emerges—mind, heart, and soul. Kaplan elucidates how Heschel remained forever torn between faith and anguish; between love of God and abhorrence of human apathy, moral weakness, and deliberate evil; between the compassion of the Baal Shem Tov of Medzibozh and the Kotzker rebbe’s cruel demands for truth. “My heart,” Heschel acknowledged, is “in Medzibozh, my mind in Kotzk.”
About the Author
Edward K. Kaplan is Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University. He is the author of numerous books, including Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940–1972; winner of the National Jewish Book Award; and coauthor, with Samuel H. Dresner, of Abraham Joshua Heschel: Prophetic Witness.