T HE J EWISH Q UA R T E R LY R EVIEW , Vol. 106, No. 2 (Spring 2016) 145–149 ARTHUR GREEN Brandeis University ON ‘‘THE C HASSIDIM’’ ( 1887) I N T H E HIS T OR Y OF Western Jewish treatments of Hasidism, Solomon Schechter’s 1887 essay ‘‘The Chassidim’’ has a unique place. It stands at a ﬁrm distance from the great disdain for Hasidism evinced by Heinrich Graetz and other key ﬁgures in the German-centered Wissenschaft des Judentums, in which Schechter himself was regarded a key ﬁgure, indeed its leading proponent in the English-speaking world. It is also not yet the romantic recreation of Hasidism to be undertaken by Martin Buber, Y. L. Peretz, and others a decade later. Schechter is writing contemporane- ously with the early studies by Simon Dubnov, the ﬁrst historian to ex- amine the Hasidic movement with a dispassionate scholarly eye. But Dubnov saw Hasidism primarily as a social movement and had little interest in the speciﬁcs of its teachings. The ﬁrst impression one gets from reading Schechter 128 years later is that of his deep concern for inward religion, or matters of the spirit. He goes beyond caring about abstract
Jewish Quarterly Review – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Jun 22, 2016
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