between the two world wars was a time of great diversity and vitality
for German Jewish culture. While many German Jews were distancing
themselves from Judaism others were becoming newly interested
in it. Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), who had once considered converting
to Christianity, was a leading Jewish religious thinker of this
era. The following excerpt is from his speech at the opening of
the Freies Juedisches Lehrhaus, an experimental institution of
adult Jewish education established in Frankfurt in 1920.
is no one today who is not alienated, or who does not contain
within himself some small fraction of alienation. All of
us to whom Judaism, to whom being a Jew, has again become
the pivot of our lives -- and I know that in saying this
here I am not speaking for myself alone -- we all know that
in being Jews we must not give up anything, not renounce
anything, but lead everything back to Judaism. From the
periphery back to the center, from the outside, in. . .
. It is not a matter of apologetics, but rather of finding
the way back into the heart of our life. And of being confident
that this heart is a Jewish heart. For we are Jews. That
sounds very simple. And so it is. It is really enough to
gather together people of all sorts as teachers and students.
Just glance at our prospectus. You will find, listed among
others, a chemist, a physician, a historian, and artist,
a politician. . . . They have come together here as Jews.
They have come together in order to "learn" -- for Jewish
"learning" includes Jewish "teaching."