Event Details

Evening with author, George Prochnik - Rabbi Asher Named Lecture

December 14 6:30pm

Rabbi Joseph Asher Memorial Lecture

"Strangers in Strange Lands: Sigmund Freud, Gershom Scholem & The Dream of Belonging"

An Evening With Author, George Prochnik

Thursday, December 14, 6:30 pm, at the Jewish Community Library

The Library is located at 1835 Ellis Street in San Francisco, on the campus of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, with free garage parking at 1227 Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy

Sigmund Freud—whose psychological theories continue to form part of our cultural bedrock—never overcame a sense of alienation from the civilization that was home to him, even when its public eventually embraced his ideas. Gershom Scholem—the scholar of Kabbalah whose understanding of European Jewry’s doomed fantasy of assimilation led him to emigrate to Mandate Palestine in the 1920s—never found himself at home in the Zionist political project.

In this talk, George Prochnik will discuss the ways that Freud and Scholem’s own experience informed their theories of how the dream of belonging shapes personal-psychological and national history, often to disastrous effect. Today, when illusions of restoring or creating the “true homeland” carry dangerous political reverberations, reexamining the struggles of these two profound thinkers attempting to reckon with the problem of belonging has never been more important or timely.

In different ways and sometimes against their will, both men ultimately discovered a philosophical dignity and humanist poetry in the shared condition of exile. “History has focused its fire on us,” Scholem declared in a poem entitled “Encounter with Zion and the World” written in Jerusalem in 1930. “What was within is now without,/the dream twists into violence.” It’s far from a comforting vision; but in exploring the thoughts of two great minds confronting historical impossibilities we may yet find solace in their prophetic clarity. 


Record ID: 701Pd0000032VilIAE