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Gershom Scholem on Kabbalah: Messianism, Sabbatai Zevi, and Jewish Modernity

This course was offered in Winter/Spring, 2017.

Gershom Scholem is a major figure in twentieth-century thought whose works are still considered crucial points of departure for contemporary debates in the fields of religious-mystical traditions and their relation to modern historical analysis. The main purpose of the talk is to present Scholem’s basic claims regarding the fundamental importance of Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah to Jewish life in modernity. The talk will first detail his understanding of Lurianic Kabbalah and its end in the events following the conversion of the false messiah Sabbatai Zevi, focusing on his theory of Redemption Through Sin. The talk will then show how those events prefigured and indeed preceded diverse modern phenomena such as Jewish Enlightenment and the Zionist movement.


# Sessions
Date & time

Tuesday, April 25
7:00 - 8:30 pm

Session Time Days Location Instructors
Apr 25 7:00 PM–8:30 PM Tue Beth El Gilad Sharvit


Congregation Beth El

1301 Oxford Street

Berkeley, CA 94709



Gilad Sharvit

Gilad SharvitDr. Gilad Sharvit is a Townsend Fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. He teaches on the intersection of theories of history, politics, and religion in modern German-Jewish thought and literature at the Center for Jewish Studies. Sharvit’s current book project, provisionally entitled “History and Repetition: Modern German Jewish Thought and the Negation of Time,” focuses on works on history and messianism of Benjamin, Kafka, Rosenzweig and Freud. Sharvit is co-editor and contributing author of the volume “Violent Origins: Freud, Moses, Religion” that is forthcoming with Fordham University Press. His recent publications appeared in the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Idealistic Studies, and the Journal of Austrian Studies.