Hot charismatic Jewish women

Hot charismatic Jewish women make the world go around. And I don’t mean it just in the crass, existential way, but in the most uplifted cultural sense as well. Late 18th century through 1940’s, painters, poets, philosophers flocked to the literary salons ran by Henriette Herz, Amalie Beer, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and many others. If you happen to be in New York, check out the The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and their Salons exhibit at the Jewish Museum. The collection is not so much artistic as it is historical, so you really got to shell out extra for the stupid headphones. But just this once, it’s a must. You’ll feel like you’re in one of those salons. The exhibit is on until July.

10 thoughts on “Hot charismatic Jewish women

  1. definitely slick, Deborah Hertz, a former professor at Sarah Lawrence, has done most of her research on the Jewish Women’s salon’s of Berlin, she even has a book out, i believe….really interesting stuff….

  2. A lot of mythology around the salons as meeting points for German and Jewish intellectuals in the 18th and 19th centuries. Turns out, that these imagined encounters existed mostly in literary representations. By the way, the most important salonniere was Rahel Varnhagen (nee Levin) – she converted and married up.

  3. Is it? I haven’t read it yet, even though he is a name-sake of mine (first name). I am actually doing a PhD in modern German Jewish history so I am a bit skeptical of these kinds of popular efforts and almost afraid to pick it up.

  4. Ya know habibi, I think you might be exaggerating a bit. Think Adorno – Benjamin or Benjamin – Brecht, for example. All these people Sholem corresponded with. Jews and German intellectuals did hang together, at least as a matter of academic interest, political etc.

  5. Jake – the 20th century is a different matter altogether. I was talking about a few of these salonnieres in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I am definitely not a “right-winger” on this stuff, otherwise I wouldn’t be studying the history of the Jews in Germany! But I am still with Scholem in the end – I am very skeptical about assertions that such a thing as a “German-Jewish dialogue” really existed. I just finished reading all of Scholem’s correspondence from 1914-1947, and he actually wrote mostly to Jews…but that’s a small quibble. Also Max Horkheimer was Jewish, Theodor Adorno’s father was Jewish (btw, he used to go by “Wiesengrund-Adorno” but dropped the Jewish-sounding name when he moved to the still uncomfortably antisemitic US in the 1930s, escaping from the Nazis), and Brecht was goyish.. Jews were profoundly influenced by German intellectual culture – as George Mosse showed severla decades ago, however, they ended up embracing Bildung more than the Germans themselves, holding on to the old ideals while the rest of German society was becoming increasingly volkisch and antisemitic.

  6. Cool I didn’t know about Adorno, but I guess it makes sense he took after Benjamin like that. Did he hide his identity back in Germany? I thought he had big university posts etc. Are you doing doctoral work on this stuff? I’m writing a paper now on “Art in the age of Mechanical” and Scholem’s reaction to it. Fascinating stuff.

  7. Well, Horkheimer and Adorno knew that Benjamin had a lot of potential – they were constantly trying to get him to work for the Institute. Everyone in Germany knew that Adorno & co were Jewish, but they weren’t such high profile figures. They only became public intellectuals when they (i.e. Horkheimer and Adorno) returned to Frankfurt in 1949/50. They definitely didn’t hide their Jewishness then anymore. While they didn’t take part in Jewish communal life (they never really had), they did begin to identify more with their Judaism, Horkheimer even went as far as rooting “critical theory” in some aspects of Jewish thought.
    Hmm..that’s interesting, what did Scholem say about the essay? I don’t remember that from the letters. Do you have a date / page number…I was always curious, because Scholem really didn’t like Benjamin’s Marxist conversion and that essay’s ending..oy. Scholem and Benjamin agreed on language and metaphysics, but I’d really like to know what Scholem made of Benjamin’s cultural critical work, especially his attention to film. Please tell me more and send me your essay by e-mail.
    I am still working out a dissertation topic – I think there’s been so much written now on Scholem-Benjamin stuff, that I am bit hesitant about doing that. If you want I can send you an essay about Horkheimer and Adorno on Jewish chosenness.
    shabbat shalom y’all,

  8. hey, yeah, i’d love to see the Adorno paper, or show you what i have on sholem-benjamin so far. what’s yr email address? or u can catch me jmarmeratrandomhousedot com

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