Baruch Kurzweil

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Baruch Kurzweil
Born 1907 (1907)
Pirnice, Czech Republic
Died 1972 (1973) (aged 65)
Occupation Literary critic

Baruch Kurzweil (1907–1972) (Hebrew: ברוך קורצווייל) was a pioneer of Israeli literary criticism.[1]


Kurzweil was born in Brtnice, Moravia (now Czechoslovakia) in 1907, to an Orthodox Jewish family.[2][3] He studied at Solomon Breuer's yeshiva in Frankfurt and the University of Frankfurt.[4] Kurzweil emigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1939.[3] Kurzweil taught at a high school in Haifa, where he mentored the poet Dahlia Ravikovitch and psychologist Amos Tversky.[5][6] He founded and headed Bar Ilan University's Department of Hebrew Literature until his death. He wrote a column for Haaretz newspaper.[3][7]

Kurzweil committed suicide in 1972.[3]


Kurzweil saw secular modernity (including secular Zionism) as representing a tragic, fundamental break from the premodern world.[3] Where before the belief in God provided a fundamental absolute of human existence, in the modern world this pillar of human life has disappeared, leaving a "void" that moderns futilely attempt to fill by exalting the individual ego.[3] This discontinuity is reflected in modern Hebrew literature, which lacks the religious foundation of traditional Jewish literature: “The secularism of modern Hebrew literature is a given in that it is for the most part the outgrowth of a spiritual world divested of the primordial certainty in a sacral foundation that envelops all the events of life and measures their value.”[3][8][9][10]

Kurzweil saw a writer's response to the "void" of modern existence as his most fundamental characteristic.[3] He believed S.Y. Agnon and Uri Zvi Grinberg were the greatest modern Hebrew writers.[3][11] A confrontational polemicist, Kurzweil famously wrote against Ahad Haam and Gershom Scholem, who he saw as attempting to establish secularism as the foundation of Jewish life.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ David, Anthony, The Patron: A Life of Salman Schocken, 1877–1959, p. 296
  2. ^ Myers, David N. Resisting history: historicism and its discontents in German-Jewish thought. Princeton University Press. 2003. p. 225.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Singer, David (August–September 1990). "The Orthodox Jew as Intellectual Crank". First Things. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. 
  4. ^ Myers 155
  5. ^ Bloch, Chana; Chana Kronfeld (2009). "Introduction". Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch. W.W. Norton & Co. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-393-06524-4. 
  6. ^ Lewis, Michael (2017). The Undoing Project. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-393-35610-6. 
  7. ^ Orr, Akiva. The unJewish state: the politics of Jewish identity in Israel. p. 194
  8. ^ Shaked, G.; Budick, E.M. (2000). Modern Hebrew Fiction. Indiana University Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780253337115. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  9. ^ Patterson, D.; Abramson, G.; Parfitt, T. (1994). Jewish Education and Learning: Published in Honour of Dr. David Patterson on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. Harwood Academic Publishers. p. 130. ISBN 9783718653249. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 
  10. ^ Crowsly, Marcus (2006). Being for Myself Alone: Origins of Jewish Autobiography. Stanford University Press. p. 35.
  11. ^ Roskies, David G. (1993). "Modern Jewish Literature". In Jack Wertheimer. The Modern Jewish Experience: a Reader's Guide. NYU Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-8147-9262-9. 
  12. ^ "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933-2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-17. 

Further reading[edit]

Diamond, James S. Barukh Kurzweil and modern Hebrew literature. Chico, Calif. Scholars Pr. Brown Judaic Studies. 1983.