The Life and Legacy of Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Conversation with Susannah Heschel

Susannah Heschel joins us to talk about the work and legacy of her father, Abraham Joshua Heschel: What we take away from Heschel’s writings as well as his moral and political example, and what we still have to learn from him today. We also talk about Susannah’s efforts to publish her father’s writings as well as her own research in modern Jewish history and Jewish thought. Indeed, she’s a towering scholar in her own right and we’re delighted to have her on the podcast for a wide ranging discussion about the meaning and context of one her father’s work, and also how it relates to her own research and thinking about Jewish thought and why it matters.

Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth. She’s written extensively on Jewish and German intellectual history, including her books Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus and ‌The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. She’s also played a major part in the continuing publication of the work of Abraham Joshua Heschel, including Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, which appeared in 1998.

For those who aren’t familiar with Abraham Joshua Heschel, he was one of the most important Jewish writers, theologians, and political activists of the twentieth century. He was born in Warsaw in 1907, a scion of a preeminent family of Hasidic rabbis, and he pursued his doctorate in Berlin in the 1920s where he also studied at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, the rabbinical seminary and institute of higher Jewish learning in Berlin. In 1940, Heschel fled to the US where he took a position at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and then in 1946 he began teaching at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.

It’s been almost a half-century since Heschel’s passing in 1972, but his work still speaks to so many people. In this episode we look at why that is, and what we can learn from him today. Heschel was a prolific writer, and he penned a series of important books and essays including a pathbreaking study of the Prophets, theological writings including The Sabbath, Man is Not Alone, and God in Search of Man. He was also a political activist and deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement, famously marching alongside Martin Luther King in Selma.

In this episode we speak with Susannah Heschel about her father, his writings and his work, his thought and his theology, and his political legacy too.

Books, essays, and topics discussed in this episode include:

A transcript of this episode will be available shortly.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: