Meet the Family: Abraham Joshua Heschel
Susannah Heschel in conversation with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett about her father, a leading Jewish theologian and philosopher and civil rights activist.
- Live in English: Sunday 7 March (Sunday), 2:00PM EST / 11:00AM PST, 8:00PM CET, 9:00PM Israel.
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"Meet the Family" – online conversations with the descendants of distinguished Polish Jews, moderated by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator of POLIN Museum’s Core Exhibition.
Join the next "Meet the Family"conversation. Abraham Joshua Heschel’s daughter, Susannah Heschel will explore the life and work of her father and what his legacy means to her and the world. This conversation takes place on March 7, the 56th anniversary of the Selma March, during which Rabbi Heschel walked with Martin Luther King Jr. What better occasion to reflect on the lasting legacy of Abraham Joshua Heschel as a civil rights leader and anti-war activist. This conversation precedes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March.
The "Meet the Family" series accompanies the new Legacy gallery at POLIN Museum. The 26 individuals featured in the Legacy gallery, when considered together, form a collective portrait of Polish Jews and their achievements. The “Meet the Family” series goes beyond the 26 luminaries featured in the gallery and broadens the discussion to consider how their lives illuminate the history of Polish Jews, and how the history of Polish Jews illuminates their lives. The series will offer a unique opportunity to meet their descendants, some of whom are devoting their own lives to preserving the legacy of their distinguished forebears.
The conversation with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett explores their lives, work, and legacy. How did those who achieved so much overcome limitations, pursue their goals, and take responsibility for themselves and other? May those we honor in these conversations inspire us today and in the future.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is Ronald S. Lauder Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews and University Professor Emerita at New York University. Her books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image Before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt); The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times (with Jonathan Karp); and Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (with Jeffrey Shandler, among others. She has received honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary, University of Haifa, and Indiana University, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of the Republic of Poland. She is the recipient of the 2020 Dan David Prize. She serves on Advisory Boards for the Council of American Jewish Museums, Jewish Museum Vienna, Jewish Museum Berlin, and the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, and advises on museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania, Belarus, Albania, Israel, and the United States.
Susannah Heschel is the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus, which won a National Jewish Book Award, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany, and Jüdischer Islam: Islam und jüdisch-deutsche Selbstbestimmung, and co-editor, with Umar Ryad, of The Muslim Reception of European Orientalism. While a student, she edited one of the first books on Jewish feminism, and feminist theory continues to inspire her scholarship; she is currently writing a book with Sarah Imhoff entitled Jewish Studies and the Woman Question. The recipient of four honorary degrees, she has held research grants from the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a descendant of two important Hasidic dynasties, was born in Warsaw. After receiving a thorough Jewish education in Poland, Heschel entered the University of Berlin, where in 1934 he received his doctorate for a study of the biblical prophets. In 1937 Heschel became Martin Buber’s successor at the Judisches Lehrhaus in Frankfurt and head of adult Jewish education in Germany, but the following year, he and other Polish Jews were deported by the Nazis. After short periods in Warsaw and London, he came to the United States in 1940 to teach at Hebrew Union College. In 1945 Heschel became Professor of Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and began to publish works ranging from studies of the piety of East European Jews and the inward character of Jewish observance, to religious symbolism, Jewish views of humanity, and contemporary moral and political issues. Before his untimely death, Heschel had become highly respected among Americans of many faiths not only for his writings but also for his active role in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s and in Jewish-Christian dialogue.