Gerhard (Gershom) Scholem (1897-1982) was the preeminent modern scholar of Jewish mysticism. Martin Buber once remarked, "all of us have students, schools, but only Gershom Scholem has created a whole academic discipline!" His contribution lay in five distinct yet connected areas: the research and analysis of kabbalistic literature spanning from late antiquity to the twentieth century, the phenomenology of mystical religion, Jewish historiography, Zionism, and the spiritual and political condition of contemporary Judaism and Jewish civilization. He published over 40 volumes and close to 700 articles almost all of which are listed in the Scholem Bibliography published in 1977.
The exhibit, on view at the Frances-Henry Library at HUC-JIR/LA, includes books written by and about Scholem, and items representing the current scholarly work done in this discipline.
(Scholem's bibliography of works, his biography, and more information are available and on view at the Frances-Henry Library at HUC-JIR/LA.)
The profoundly altered approach to Jewish history that followed in the wake of the Zionist revival and the movement for national rebirth led, particularly after World War I, to a renewal of interest in the Kabbalah as a vital expression of Jewish existence. A new attempt was made to understand, independently of all polemic or apologetic positions, the genesis, development, historical role, and social and intellectual influence of the Kabbalah within the total context of the internal and external forces that have determined the shape of Jewish history. With the development of new perspectives in recent years, scholarly investigation of the Kabbalah is only now emerging from its infancy.