I and Thou

MM Owen | Aeon

Walter Benjamin; Marc Bloch; Ernst Cohen; Georg Alexander Pick. Some of the finest Jewish minds of the 20th century were lost to Nazi bloodlust. Martin Buber was one of the lucky ones. In March 1938, at 60 years of age, he left Germany for Jerusalem and a professorship at the Hebrew University. He had planned to return before too long, but six months later, Kristallnacht changed his mind.

Born in Vienna in 1878, Buber seemed fated for Jewish-intellectual fame. His grandfather had been a rabbinic scholar, and his family tree stretched back through centuries of noted Jewish figures. There was a wobble in Buber’s adolescence, a spiritual crisis triggered by his perception of the ‘edgelessness’ of space and the infinite loneliness of time. Despite this crisis, the young Buber drifted back toward the Judaism of his birth.

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