Gershom Scholem

Gershom Scholem was the pre-eminent twentieth-century scholar of Jewish mysticism and an influential historian of Judaism. Born in Germany in 1897, he rejected his assimilated bourgeois background and was drawn to Zionism, emigrating to Palestine in 1923. He became the head of the Department of Hebrew and Judaica at the National Library in Jerusalem, and later the first Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His main legacy was to transform the way that Jewish mystical texts, then often neglected, were studied, arguing passionately that they formed the living core of Jewish religious wisdom. He uncovered hundreds of new sources and formulated numerous novel interpretations of Jewish history and the Kabbalah. He was also notable for his lively debates and correspondence with other Jewish figures ranging from Hannah Arendt to Theodor Adorno. Polity is the publisher of a volume of his correspondence with Adorno, Correspondence: 1939–1969.