Steven Schwarzschild

Steven S. Schwarzschild

Steven S. Schwarzschild (1924–1989) was a rabbi, philosopher, theologian, and editor.


Schwarzschild was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and grew up in Berlin. He escaped to the United States with his family in 1939.

He received ordination at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in 1948. After returning to Berlin to serve as rabbi of the Berlin Jewish Community under the auspices of the World Union for Progressive Judaism he met Lily Rose (1913–2009) whom he later married. In 1950 he returned to the United States serving in Temples in Lynn, Massachusetts, where he came into contact with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik of Boston whom he came to view as an important teacher, and in Fargo, North Dakota. He was a member of both Reform and Conservative rabbinic assemblies.

In 1965 he was elected Professor of Philosophy and Judaic Studies at Washington University, St. Louis.

He edited the journal Judaism-A Quarterly Journal from 1961 until 1969 and was the senior editor of the Werke of Hermann Cohen.

He was awarded an honorary degree by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Both in person and by correspondence he entered into dialogue with the American Protestant theologian and pacifist John Howard Yoder, with the American Catholic monk and writer Thomas Merton, and with many leading figures in philosophy and in Jewish thought.

In 1989 he died after suffering an aneurysm.

Contribution to Jewish philosophy

The topic of his dissertation was the thought of Nachman Krochmal and Hermann Cohen as philosophers of history.

He published a series of academic journal articles on Jewish philosophical and theological topics such as Jewish ethics, aesthetics, messianism, eschatology, halakha, and the role of rationalism and the philosophies of notable Jewish philosophers such as Martin Buber, Hermann Cohen, Theodor W. Adorno, Karl Marx, Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn and Maimonides. He also showed an interest in the thought of rabbis such as Isaac Hutner, Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Joel Teitelbaum.

Following Hermann Cohen, Schwarzschild espoused a form of neo-Kantianism and emphasized the role of the halakha in Judaism as a rational system of moral ideals. He was also strongly influenced by Maimonides.

Political views

In other essays he expressed pacifist and democratic socialist views and critiqued Zionism.

He asserted at the National Interreligious Conference on Peace:

"When God, the Radical, demands that we seek peace, He demands that we radically seek radical peace...not only when it fits into the political plans of our government, nor only when it is socially safe to talk about it, nor yet to the degree to which this seems practically prudent and promising of results, but under the irresistible command of God, always, everywhere, in every way, and totally, religion must insist on, explore, and practice the ways of peace toward the attainment of peace." (Judaism, Fall 1966).



External links

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