Culture in Jerusalem during the British Mandate Period


Residents of the religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem , Ashkenazim and Sefardim alike , were undecided about , and at times suspicious of , the phenomenon of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus . For the ultra-Orthodox , the “ heavenly Jerusalem ” of those taking part in the city’s secular cultural life could only lead to assimilation . At times it seemed that the doors of the longer-established neighborhoods were locked to the new culture . The “ Yekkes ” Are Coming A cultural revolution occurred in Jerusalem after 1933 . The Nazi rise to power was deeply felt in Jerusalem as well . Refugees began to arrive by the thousands . Only about one tenth of the immigrants from Germany came to Jerusalem ( in contrast with the one third who settled in Tel Aviv ) , but their influence on the city was marked . Some became integrated in the city’s cultural undertakings , but there were also laborers ( about 1 , 000 in 1936 ) , clerks , and scale retail merchants ; some were unemployed . The Hebrew University conducted negotiations with many professors from Germany , some of whom went to the United States rather than Eretz Israel , while others died in Europe . But there were others who did come : in 1939 the University faculty numbered 131 , of whom 34 were professors , 21 of whom had come from Germany . To a lesser degree , students from Germany enrolled in the Hebrew University . Many of these immigrants regarded themselves as refugees bearing the torch of true European culture . For years they had devoted their imagination and talents to another language and defended their belonging somewhere else , and suddenly they found themselves in a world that was alien to them . Buber was to have played a cardinal role in connecting the intelligentsia from Germany with Jewish culture in Jerusalem . For many years he had influenced the German world , and did not come to Eretz Israel . Gershom Scholem and Samuel Hugo Bergman had immigrated a decade earlier , and they awaited his arrival . But no one came . His pioneering students did not understand , and even were angry at , his failure to arrive . Upon the Nazis ’ rise to power , Buber was called upon to lead German Jewry and to establish a Jewish educational system for children and youth who had been expelled from German schools . He also influenced the direction taken by assimilating Jewish youth , and turning them toward Zionist pioneering . Then he understood that the time for his aliyah 10 had come , but the Hebrew University was hesitant to accept him within its ranks . When he immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1938 he was appointed as lecturer in sociology and social philosophy , so as not to offend the Jewish Studies faculty or politicians . In a letter to one of his students , one of the founders of Kibbutz Ha-Zorea , he wrote that there was no room in Eretz Israel for his religious doctrine . Buber argued : I came in order to learn , to live , not to impose my teaching . He was soon identified as belonging to the Berit Shalom circle . Buber was later one of the founders of Ihud , which , in great degree , was the successor of Berit Shalom . Scholars studying the period concur that the Jews who came from Germany to Jerusalem in the 1930 s greatly influenced the city’s cultural life , but not in all realms equally . The most problematic realm in this respect was the literary field , for language proved to be an unsurmountable barrier for many of the immigrant writers and poets , while the attitude of many in the Yishuv to German and its speakers was hostile , and at times even violent . The publishers focused on publishing books in Hebrew . Works by the German immigrant writers were published almost clandestinely , at times as stenciled booklets . The Peter Freund publishing house in Jerusalem published several books of poetry and literary collections in German , but they were intended for a limited readership . The immigrant writers faced tremendous difficulties . For instance , Erich Hayman , who had been the literary editor of an important Berlin newspaper , now earned his livelihood by selling newspapers . The poetess Else Lasker-Schueler , who had been deemed the high priestess of

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