Collection ID: RL.10086

Collection context

Summary

Creator:
Heschel, Abraham Joshua
Abstract:

אברהם יהושע השל היה מלומד והוגה דעות בעל שם בינלאומי, תיאולוג ופעיל חברתי ופוליטי. השל נולד בוורשה, פולין, נצר למשפחת רבנים חסידיים מיוחסת ולמד פילוסופיה בברלין. הוא גורש מפרנקפורט והגיע לוורשה ומשם עקר ללונדון ערב הפלישה הגרמנית לפולין. לאחר שהות קצרה בלונדון היגר השל לארצות הברית. בתחילה לימד בבית המדרש לרבנים של התנועה הרפורמית בסינסנטי, ולאחר מכן עבר לסמינר היהודי התיאולוגי בניו יורק שם שימש כפרופסור לאתיקה ולקבלה עד מותו בשנת 1972. בנוסף להשתתפותו הפעילה בנושאים של צדק חברתי ובדיאלוג הבין-דתי, היה השל גם מלומד ומורה רוחני ותרם תרומה חשובה למדעי היהדות. כהוגה דעות של הדת היתה מטרתו של השל להגביר ולהעמיק את התובנות הרוחניות של היהדות ובמהלך חייו השפיע על דורות של יהודים ולא- יהודים. הארכיון האישי של אברהם יהושע השל מקיף את השנים 1880-1998 ומתעד את חייו האישיים, האקדמיים והציבוריים. הארכיון כולל תכתובות, כתבים של השל ועליו, כתבי יד מודפסים, קטעי עיתונות, כתבים שיצאו לאור ומעט תמונות וחפצי קודש. האוסף מספק תובנות לזהותו של השל כמנהיג רוחני ומסביר כיצד היה מעמדו זה קשור בקשר עמוק לחייו האישיים והמקצועיים. האוסף מחולק לפי הנושאים הבאים: חומר מוקלט, התכתבויות, חומר אישי ומשפחתי, פעילות ציבורית, חומר מוגבל וכתבים.

Abraham Joshua Heschel was an internationally known scholar, author, activist, and theologian. He was born in Warsaw, Poland into a distinguished family of Hasidic rebbes, and studied philosophy in Berlin, Germany. In 1938 he was deported from Frankfurt to Warsaw where he escaped to London just before the Nazi invasion. After a brief time in London he immigrated to the United States, first teaching at the Hebrew Union College and then at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he taught as Professor of Ethics and Mysticism until his death in 1972. In addition to his active participation in social justice issues and his interfaith work, Heschel was also a scholar and religious thinker who made significant contributions to Jewish studies. As a philosopher of religion, his goal was to make the spiritual insights of Judaism understandable and over the course of his lifetime influenced generations of Jews and non-Jews. The Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers span the years 1880 to 1998 and document Abraham Joshua Heschel's personal, academic, and public life. Items in this collection include correspondence, writings by and about Heschel, typescripts, clippings, printed material, and a small amount of photographs and artifacts. The materials in the collection provide insight to Heschel's identity as a spiritual leader and how this role was inextricably connected to his personal and professional life. The collection is organized into the following series: Audio, Correspondence, Personal and Family Materials, Public Activity, Restricted, and Writings.

Extent:
162 Linear Feet and 319 boxes
Language:
English and There are 16 languages represented in this collection. Predominant languages include English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and German.
Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Background

Scope and Content:

The Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers span the years 1880 to 1998 and document Abraham Joshua Heschel's personal, academic, and public life, including his long-term involvement and leadership in social activism and other public activities, his reputation as a compelling and sought-after public speaker, and his far-reaching influence as a scholar and religious thinker. Items in this collection include correspondence, writings by and about Heschel, typescripts, clippings, printed material, and a small amount of photographs and artifacts. The materials in the collection provide insight to Heschel's identity as a spiritual leader and how this role was inextricably connected to his personal and professional life.

The collection is organized into the following series: Audio, Correspondence, Personal and Family Materials, Public Activity, Restricted, and Writings. Heschel maintained a meaningful, yet complex filing system. To balance preserving the original order with making the collection as accessible to researchers as possible, several key elements have been added to the collection guide:

•Scope note at the folder level. In many cases folder titles in the collection were reused, abbreviated, in Hebrew, or did not exist. Short descriptions of folder contents have been included not only to provide context for the materials, but also to make distinctions between the varying titles.

•Supplied/enhanced folder titles. In the case of missing or abbreviated titles, supplied titles (in brackets) were created. For folder titles written in Hebrew, the original folder title was documented along with its transliteration and English translation.

•Language extent. There are varying degrees in the amount of language materials in each folder and oftentimes multiple languages are represented in a single folder. To assist researchers, each folder description includes a note identifying the language(s) and their extent in the folder, with the dominant language listed first. The absence of a note indicates that all materials in the folder are in English. The following language categories are used: "A few" indicates that 1-25% of the materials are in another language(s); "Some" 26-65%; "Most" 66-99%; and "All" 100%.

Additionally there was a large of amount of clippings included in the Heschel collection which were generally in fragile condition. Where possible, these clippings were photocopied for preservation purposes and the originals discarded.

Biographical / Historical:

Abraham Joshua Heschel was an internationally known scholar, author, activist, and theologian. He was born in Warsaw, Poland into a distinguished family of Hasidic rebbes and was named after his great-grandfather, the Apter Rebbe, Avraham Yehoshua Heschel. His mother, Rivka Reizl, descended from the famed Rabbi Levi Yitzak of Berdichev and his father, Mosche Mordecai of Pelzovizna. Heschel studied philosophy in Berlin, Germany and was deported from Frankfurt to Warsaw where he escaped to London just before the Nazi invasion. After a brief time in London, he immigrated to the United States, first teaching at the Hebrew Union College and then at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he taught as Professor of Ethics and Mysticism until his death in 1972.

In addition to his active participation in social justice issues including civil rights and the plight of the Jews in the Soviet Union, and his interfaith work, Heschel was also a scholar and religious thinker who made significant contributions to every field of Jewish studies. As a philosopher of religion, his goal was to make the spiritual insights of Judaism understandable and over the course of his lifetime influenced generations of Jews and non-Jews, leaving a lasting impression all over the world.

Chronology
Date Event
1907 Jan 11
born in Warsaw, Poland into a distinguished family of Hasidic rebbes.
1916 Nov 16
father dies during influenza epidemic, leaving Heschel and his mother and siblings (4 sisters Esther, Gittel, Sarah and Devorah, 1 brother Jacob) impoverished.
1925
arrives in Vilna, Poland (formerly Lithuania) to study at the secular Real-Gymnasium.
1927
comes to Berlin, Germany and enters both the Reform rabbinical school (Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums) and the University of Berlin. Heschel also informally studies at the Hildesheimer, an Orthodox rabbinical seminary. By January, 1931 Heschel completes his required courses at the university with a specialization in philosophy and minors in art history and Semitic philology.
1932
serves as Instructor in Talmud at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin.
1932-1933
completes doctoral dissertation, Das Prophetische Bewusstsein (The Prophetic Consciousness), but is unable to publish it in Germany due to the political and legal changes sweeping the country. The book is finally published in Poland in 1935 and Heschel is awarded his Ph.D. on December 11, 1935.
1934 Jul
completes his degree at the Hochschule.
1935
his first major work, Maimonides: Eine Biographie is published in German. The French edition is published in 1936 and the English edition in 1982.
1937-1938
becomes successor to Martin Buber as a teacher in the Frankfurt LehrHaus, an adult education center.
1938 Oct
arrested and deported to Warsaw, Poland where he is later appointed to the chair of Jewish Philosophy by the Institute for Jewish Science.
1939
receives official confirmation from Julian Morgenstern, president of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, OH, of a position of a research fellow in Bible and Jewish Philosophy. Heschel leaves Warsaw for London, England to obtain an American visa for emigration to the United States. While in London, he founds the Institute for Jewish Learning.
1940 Mar
leaves for the United States and arrives in New York City.
1940-1945
teaches at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati, OH. He begins as a fellow of Jewish philosophy, is promoted to Instructor in Jewish Philosophy and Rabbinics in 1943 and to Associate Professor in 1944. While at HUC, he meets future wife Sylvia Straus, a concert pianist.
1945
The Earth is the Lord's: the Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe first presented, in shortened form, as a lecture in Yiddish that Heschel delivers to members of YIVO (Yiddish Scientific Institute) in New York City in January. During the same year is invited to teach at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS) in New York as Associate Professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism and becomes a naturalized citizen.
1946 Dec 10
marries Sylvia Straus in Los Angeles.
1950-1955
publishes 5 books, including The Earth is the Lord's: the Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe (1950), Man is not Alone (1951), The Sabbath (1951), Man's Quest for God (1954), God in Search of Man (1955).
1954
receives a Guggenheim Fellowship to "devote himself" to studies of the life and thought of Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, known as Baal Shem Tov.
1960-1961
receives and accepts offers to be a visiting professor at two institutions, the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa.
1961 Nov
travels to Rome to meet with several Vatican officials as part of the upcoming Ecumenical Council. There Heschel meets Cardinal Bea for the first time. In 1962 Heschel writes the memorandum "On Improving Catholic-Jewish Relations" which becomes the foundational American Jewish Committee (AJC) contribution to the Vatican Declaration on the Jews.
1962
The Prophets and Torah min HaShamayim Volume I are published.
1963 Jan
speaks at a conference on "Religion and Race" in Chicago, organized by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Meets Martin Luther King Jr. for the first time.
1963 May
delivers a series of three lectures at Stanford University which he revises and expands into Who is Man? The book is published in 1965 by Stanford University Press.
1965
participates in the Voting Rights March in Selma, Alabama. Heschel is also appointed by the Union Theological Seminary to serve as its Harry Emerson Fosdick Visiting Professor, the first Jewish scholar to be appointed to the faculty of the Protestant institution. His inaugural lecture is "No Religion is an Island." Torah min HaShamayim Volume II is published.
1964 Sep
obtains a private audience with Pope Paul VI prior to the third session of the Ecumenical Council.
1966 Jan
Notre Dame University confers upon Heschel its degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
1971 Mar
obtains private audience with Pope Paul VI.
1971
receives honorary degree of Doctor of Hebrew Letters from Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago, Illinois.
1972 Dec 23
dies in New York City at the age of 65.
1973
Heschel's last books, Kotzk, a two-volume work in Yiddish, and A Passion for Truth are published. Torah min HaShamayim Volume III is published in 1990.
Processing information:

Processed by Mary Samouelian, Adrienne Krone, Samuel J. Kessler, Annegret Oehme, and Emanuel Fiano, June 2014.

Encoded by: Mary Samouelian, June 2014

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2012.0095, 2012.0105

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Access

RESTRICTIONS:

האוסף פתוח למחקר, אך קיימות הגבלות על חלקים מסוימים ממנו. ראה תיאור Restricted Series שבאוסף. חוקרים חייבים להרשם ולהסכים לחוקי ההגנה על זכויות יוצרים ועל פרטיות לפני השימוש באוסף. האוסף כולו או חלקים ממנו עשויים להיות שמורים מחוץ לספריה, במרכז השירות הספרייתי של אוניברסיטת דיוק. יתכן וידרשו עד 48 שעות על מנת להעביר את החומר ולאפשר שימוש מחקרי בו. חוקרים המעונינים להשתמש באוסף מתבקשים ליצור קשר עם צוות שירותי המחקר של ספרית דוד. מ. רובינשטיין לספרים נדירים ולכתבי יד, לפני ביקורם בספריה.

Collection is open for research. There are limits on the use of some parts of the collection; please see description below of 'Restricted Series'.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48-hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

TERMS OF ACCESS:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

PREFERRED CITATION:

[Identification of item], Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

LOCATION OF THIS COLLECTION:
Rubenstein Library
411 Chapel Drive
Durham, NC 27708, USA
CONTACT:
919-660-5822
special-collections@duke.edu