Course Memo

The life of rabbi, philosopher, and theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) aligns with a period of radical change and upheaval that historian Eric Hobsbawm called “the short twentieth century.” Beginning with the fall of empires on the eve of World War I and concluding with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991, this epoch witnessed a world undergoing radical transformation. Heschel, remarkably, found himself at the center of many events that defined the era. Heschel’s engagement with twentieth-century liberation movements included leadership roles as an advocate for the Jewish community during World War II and the Second Vatican Council, and as strong ally during the Civil Rights and Peace movements of the 1960s. This course is designed as a practicum in which a substantial amount of in-class time will be devoted to close analysis of primary sources. While students may choose to prepare them in advance, many primary sources will be read and discussed in class.