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Young Gershom, awkward, arrogant, melancholic, and constantly seeking refuge in a rapidly moving kaleidoscope of ideas, was his parents’ fourth, most rebellious son. (The third, Werner, briefly a follower of Rosa Luxembourg, was murdered by the Nazis in 1940 in Buchenwald.) Arthur Scholem, a tough, successful printer, was a member of neither the German Jewish elite nor the German establishment but, like many German Jews of his generation, deluded himself into believing that there was no difference between himself and German Gentiles — that there was no anti-Semitism in Germany.

Gershom shrewdly observed that despite his father’s pretensions, the Germans with whom he did business did not mix socially with the Scholems, and Gershom fought bitterly with his father over the elder Scholem’s indifference to Jewish tradition and misguided attempt to be an unquestioning German patriot. Gershom flirted with anarchism, then perused his own very individual brand of Zionism, and emigrated in 1923 to Jerusalem, where he became the first Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a huge force at making that subject — and the study of the Kabbalah — a serious scholarly enterprise.

more from The NY Sun here.