Buber, Martin

(1878-1965)
   religious philosopher; his ideas gave Zion-ism its spiritual core. Born in Vienna, he was moved to the eastern Galician city of Lemberg (now Lvov) upon his parents' separation. Raised by his paternal grandparents, he fell under the influence of his grandfather Salomon Buber, a Hebrew scholar and local banker. To his grandfather's exacting education in Hebrew and Jewish traditions, Lemberg added a rich Hasidic experience. Both inspired Buber's later efforts at transforming the negative nineteenth-century stereotypes of Ostjuden* in the perceptions of Western Jews.*
   Buber studied philosophy and took a doctorate in 1904 at Vienna. He gained inspiration as a student from Friedrich Nietzsche and Wilhelm Dilthey; he also wrote essays on Arthur Schnitzler, Peter Altenberg, and Hugo von Hofmanns-thal, all authors he greatly admired. In 1898 he joined Theodor Herzl's Zionist movement and three years later briefly edited its newspaper,* Die Welt. Friction arose, however, when Buber began espousing a spiritual Zionism in place of Herzl's political vision. He argued that Zionism should be viewed as Judaism's cultural renaissance, not as a negative reaction to anti-Semitism*; its foundation should be a broad program of education, not propaganda. In his view, which was crucial in altering perceptions of the Ostjuden, Herzl epitomized the rootless Western Jew—a nineteenth-century rationalist whose personality was devoid of Jewish tradition (he later mellowed toward Herzl). His notion of Zionism was, nonetheless, interwoven with German notions of blood and Volk, and his search for an authentic community (Gemeinschaft), which also echoed German thought, helped inspire a Jewish youth movement in revolt against materialism and ra-tionalism. While Buber was not a racist, he embraced the conviction that a Jew's destiny was fixed by an organic link to a common, collective fate.
   Although Buber later labeled his early views "lyrical doctrinarianism," he always worked to form an intellectual bridge between East and West. With-drawing from the Zionist movement after his clash with Herzl, he took up a study of mysticism and reembraced the Hasidism that had so captivated him in Lemberg; his Hasidic Tales, begun in 1906, helped regenerate a spiritual basis for Europe's Jewish community. Joining Gustav Landauer's* utopian Socialist Bund in 1908, he reentered the Zionist movement around 1910. With his 1911 Discourses on Judaism, he blended the longing for a Jewish homeland with Hasidic mysticism and religious socialism. The book, which made him the spokesman for those who wished to underscore the humanism and power in-herent in their bonds as Jews, inspired debate between Buber's disciples and Jews who advocated conversion to Christianity. By the 1920s Buber was among the outstanding figures of modern Judaism. He published a monthly journal entitled Der Jude (1916-1924) and, with Franz Rosenzweig,* began a German translation of the Hebrew Bible, a task he finally completed in 1961. Qualified to lecture in 1923, he taught comparative religion at Frankfurt, becoming hon-orary professor of religion and Jewish ethics in 1930. Although Buber was forced from Frankfurt's faculty in 1933, he worked diligently for five years against the moral defamation and social discrimination of the NSDAP. In March 1938 he emigrated to Palestine. His philosophy is embraced in his 1923 book Ich und Du.
   REFERENCES:Aschheim, Brothers and Strangers; Hans Bach, German Jew; George Mosse, German Jews beyond Judaism; Wistrich, Jews ofVienna.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Buber, Martin — born Feb. 8, 1878, Vienna, Austria Hungary died June 13, 1965, Jerusalem German Jewish religious philosopher and biblical translator. Brought up in Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine), he studied in Vienna, Berlin, Leipzig, and Zürich. Friedrich… …   Universalium

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  • Buber,Martin — Bu·ber (bo͞oʹbər), Martin. 1878 1965. Austrian born Judaic scholar and philosopher whose influential I and Thou (1923) posits a direct personal dialogue between God and the individual. * * * …   Universalium

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