Stranger in a Strange Land by George Prochnik review – Gershom Scholem and Zionism

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The author, like his subject, rejected consumer capitalism and travelled to Israel to find a more meaningful Jewish life. But problems arose …

One day before the outbreak of the first world war, a precocious boy called Gerhard Scholem burst into a room at home and began the rite of symbolically castrating his father. “Papa, I think I want to be a Jew,” he exclaimed. He was planning to learn Hebrew, study the Bible and become a Zionist. His father, an assimilationist German businessman who despised his Jewish heritage, was appalled: “You want to return to the ghetto?” he asked. “You’re the ones who are living in the ghetto,” his son snapped back. “Only you won’t admit it.”

Scholem meant that his father had established the family in a gilded bourgeois Jewish prison within a hostile German society – his friend, Walter Benjamin, who grew up in a similarly privileged west Berlin milieu, described it as “something of a ghetto held on lease”. These rebellious sons turned out to be unwittingly prescient.

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Source: israel
Link : Stranger in a Strange Land by George Prochnik review – Gershom Scholem and Zionism

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