Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Social Justice and Heschel

The Bay Area’s Lehrhaus is a hub for fearless Jewish learning.  Our heritage began 80 years ago when Martin Buber hired the young Abraham Joshua Heschel to become the co-director of the original Lehrhaus in Nazi Germany.

In the face of Neo-Nazism we are compelled to share these words of Abraham Joshua Heschel from “Religion and Race,” in The Insecurity of Freedom.

There is an evil which most of us condone and are even guilty of: indifference to evil. We remain neutral, impartial, and not easily moved by the wrongs done unto other people. Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself; it is more universal, more contagious, more dangerous. A silent justification, it makes possible an evil erupting as an exception becoming the rule and being in turn accepted.
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Spring Semester: Moral Outrage, War and Economics


From Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, "Towards a Just Society"

Readings from, The Insecurity of Freedom "No Religion Is An Island: The Interfaith Legacy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel"

From, A Passion for Truth, "Submission?"

Monday, November 6, 2017

Poem and Prose

Shai Held, and other authors, have noted that much of Heschel's essential philosophy is found in his pre-war poetry.

The Poem
Palaces in Time

The Poetic Prose
Prologue to "The Sabbath" Architecture of Time

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Controling Anger and Heschel

Rabbi Sheldon Lewis, Palo Alto Heschel Circle, is a disciple of Abraham Joshua Heschel from the 60's and the author of Torah of Reconciliation.  He writes, "I never saw my beloved teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, lose control as he stood up for
some of the most urgent issues of his time, civil rights for all, ending the war in Vietnam, and liberation for Soviet Jews. His words burned with passion as did his actions. His presence, the intense look in his eyes, and the earnestness of his spoken and written words were mesmerizing, powerful; but anger was kept at bay. I never heard him raise his voice in anger."  Read more here: Controling Anger and Heschel

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Abraham Joshua Heschel and The Prophets: A Publishing Saga

This is a short, insightful, shocking, insight to the publication of The Prophets.  Barry L. Schwartz provides a vital window into the heart and soul of Heschel and The Prophets.


Thursday, October 26, 2017


Our Berkeley Heschel Circle is lead by Yosef Rosen (whose birthday was this week).  You can celebrate with him and learn a great deal about Heschel's poetry and life at this fabulous documentary: Heschel: Poetry, Music, and Biography

Basya Schechter
This film celebrates Heschel’s words with a concert performance of ten of his poems set to music by noted singer, composer and musician Basya Schechter. This one-hour documentary includes interviews with Dr. Susannah Heschel, Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College; Peter Geffen, founder of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School; Rabbi Shai Held, author, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence; and Dr. Edward Kaplan, author, Spiritual Radical, Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972.

Heschel and Vietnam

A question arose in the Marin class as to why and when did AJH pubicaly denounce the American involvement in the Vietnam war.  The answer is connected to his republishing of "The Prophets," our current study, and next semester.  Here is a link: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963

The most commanding idea that Judaism dares to think is that freedom, not necessity, is the source of all being. The universe was not caused, but created. Behind mind and matter, order and relations, the freedom of God obtains. The inevitable is not eternal. All compulsion is a result of choice. A tinge of that exemption from necessity is hiding in the folds of the human spirit.   We are not taught to feel accused, to bear a sense of boundless guilt.  We are asked to feel elated, bred to meet the tasks that never end.
         Judaism is forever engaged in a bitter battle against man’s deeply rooted belief in fatalism and its ensuing inertia in social, moral, and spiritual conditions.  Abraham started in rebellion against his father and the gods of his time.  His great distinction was not being loyal and conforming, but in defying and initiating.  He was loved by the Lord not for ancestral worship but because he taught his descendants to “keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right” (Genesis 18:19).

Abraham Joshua Heschel (January 11, 1907 – December 23, 1972)

From Religion in a Free Society, in “The Insecurity of Freedom” by Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1963