Workshop – Chicago Center for Jewish Studies Graduate Working Group

This workshop invites graduate students across the disciplines with research interests in Jewish Studies:

January 27th, 12-1pm, Social Sciences Tea Room (SSRB 201)

Sam Berrin Shonkoff (Ph.D student in History of Judaism)

Ancient Soil and Firm Sod: On Buber’s Insistence that the ‘Land of Israel’ Literally Refers to the Land

Given Buber’s strong affinity for the “pan-sacramentalism” of Hasidism, it might strike us as peculiar that he so boldly affirmed the exceptional holiness of the geographical eretz yisrael (the Land of Israel). Moreover, scholars such as Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer observe a spiritualization/internalization of eretz yisrael in Hasidism to the extent that striving for “self-redemption” in Exile even outweighs the hope for collective redemption in Zion. In Buber’s 1944 book Bein Am le-Artzo (later translated as On Zion: The History of an Idea), however, he portrays Hasidism as a movement that radically embraces the earthly aspect of eretz yisrael and that provides a foundation for what Buber sees as a truly robust and righteous form of Zionism. Furthermore, Buber ironically portrays political Zionism as the movement that spiritualizes/internalizes the notion of Zion. In this exploration of the relationship between Buber’s Zionism and his interpretation of Hasidism, we will gain a better understanding of why and how he insisted that eretz yisrael literally refers to “land”.

Refreshments will be served.
Find more information at or email workshop coordinators Katharine Pflaum and Joela Zeller at

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