Rabbi Louis Jacobs' scholarly networking
Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the twentieth century, is thought to have said that “all it takes is one person, and another, and another, and another, to build a movement”. One might add – a person of wisdom and strength enough to carry on regardless of the obstacles, with the ability to surround themselves with likeminded ‘others’ to share and exchange thoughts and views with. Louis Jacobs was a pioneer in many senses of the word. His understanding of the Jewish tradition evolved and deepened with the passage of time, despite what he said in the interview with Elliot Cosgrove: “... I hope I am not so superficial that I don't change, although I don't know, maybe I am superficial”, and the contributing stimuli of the 1960s moulded him into a leader he probably did not plan to become in the first place.
As a theologian and a scholar, he had not only drawn upon many rabbinical and scholarly traditions, but also was part and parcel of a wide network of outstanding scholars of his time, with whom he maintained regular research-focused contacts, and who lent him support throughout his career.
This section of the exhibition shows snapshots from the long story of his scholarly networking briefly, by presenting selections from a larger corpus of academic-related correspondence that is part of the core of the Jacobs Archive around which the exhibition is built, alongside the manuscripts of his own works and other papers documenting the history of his life and work.
The archive's correspondence boxes are a good starting point for anyone interested in researching Louis Jacobs' networking strategies. In the small selection of the archival material loaned to the Muller Library by the family of Louis Jacobs, there are 9 boxes of letters; each box contains between 77 and 450 items.
These are mostly incoming letters from other academics, communal leaders and co-religionists from all over the world. Among the academic-related letters displayed on this website, there is a letter Louis Jacobs wrote to Alexander Altmann, his mentor and friend, whom he saw as “a distinguished product of modern orthodoxy in a distinguished way”, a likeminded individual, as well as correspondence from other notable scholars: Salo Wittmayer Baron, Abraham J. Heschel, Raphael Loewe, Jakob Petuchowski, and Ada Rapoport-Albert.
The physical archive contains further items of interest (not shown online), letters from David Abulafia, Michael Loewe, James Parkes, Hugo Gryn, Lily Edelman, Alexander Carlebach, Felix Posen, Chimen Abramsky, Ruth Itzhaki, Edward Kessler, to name just a few.
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