Page 92 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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SALAMON FABER
Eliezer Schweid’s Contributions
to Jewish Thought
E
l i e z e r
S
c h w e i d
,
p r o f e s s o r
of Modern Jewish Though t at the
Hebrew University and one of our most prolific contemporary
authors, is highly regarded both in Israel and abroad for his con­
tributions to philosophic and educational endeavor. He has writ­
ten extensively on the history of Jewish philosophy, covering the
entire range of Jewish thought from biblical times down through
the rabbinic period, middle ages and modern era. His contempo­
rary concerns encompass Israeli life and culture, and focus on
issues facing the “Jew as an Israeli” and the “Israeli as a Jew.” He
deals also with problems regarding the Zionist movement — its
unfulfilled potential and prospects for the future, as well as with
issues that relate to Jewry in the Diaspora.
The sum total of Schweid’s literary output of books, mono­
graphs, collected essays and reviews, many o f which are available
in English translation, comprises a small library of Judaica. Over
the years, he has also exerted considerable influence on public
opinion in Israel th rough personal appearances as lecturer,
discussant and participant in symposia.
For the purposes of this article, it is important to consider
Schweid’s early educational background and his spiritual odys­
sey. He is a product of the Zionist revolt against the “galut” with
all that this concept represents intellectually, socio-politically and
spiritually. The son of idealistic pioneer immigrants of the Sec­
ond Aliyah (he was born in 1928), he grew up in a secularist-
humanist environment. In the area of schooling, this meant total
rejection of the age-old system of exclusive concentration on reli­
gious subject matter. In order to facilitate the Jew’s integration
into Western society, Zionist ideologues projected an educational
curriculum that aimed to eradicate the Jew’s self-imposed isola­
tionist “ghetto” mentality. Such schooling comprised in addition
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