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By Hasia R. Diner
Published October 24, 2017
“A masterpiece” —David Levering Lewis, author of King: A Biography, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize
The portrait of a humble retail magnate whose visionary ideas about charitable giving transformed the practice of philanthropy in America and beyond
Julius Rosenwald (1862–1932) rose from modest means as the son of a peddler to meteoric wealth at the helm of Sears, Roebuck. Yet his most important legacy stands not upon his business acumen but on the pioneering changes he introduced to the practice of philanthropy. While few now recall Rosenwald’s name—he refused to have it attached to the buildings, projects, or endowments he supported—his passionate support of Jewish and African American causes continues to influence lives to this day.
This biography of Julius Rosenwald explores his attitudes toward his own wealth and his distinct ideas about philanthropy, positing an intimate connection between his Jewish consciousness and his involvement with African Americans. The book shines light on his belief in the importance of giving in the present to make an impact on the future, and on his encouragement of beneficiaries to become partners in community institutions and projects. Rosenwald emerges from the pages as a compassionate man whose generosity and wisdom transformed the practice of philanthropy itself.
By Lillian Faderman
Published May 22, 2018
"Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
A lively and engaging biography of the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States, a man fiercely committed to protecting all minorities
Harvey Milk—eloquent, charismatic, and a smart-aleck—was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, but he had not even served a full year in office when he was shot by a homophobic fellow supervisor. Milk’s assassination at the age of forty-eight made him the most famous gay man in modern history; twenty years later Time magazine included him on its list of the hundred most influential individuals of the twentieth century.
Before finding his calling as a politician, however, Harvey variously tried being a schoolteacher, a securities analyst on Wall Street, a supporter of Barry Goldwater, a Broadway theater assistant, a bead-wearing hippie, the operator of a camera store and organizer of the local business community in San Francisco. He rejected Judaism as a religion, but he was deeply influenced by the cultural values of his Jewish upbringing and his understanding of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. His early influences and his many personal and professional experiences finally came together when he decided to run for elective office as the forceful champion of gays, racial minorities, women, working people, the disabled, and senior citizens. In his last five years, he focused all of his tremendous energy on becoming a successful public figure with a distinct political voice.
By David Biale
Published June 19, 2018
"A superb, much-awaited biography.”—Steven Aschheim, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
A new biography of the seminal twentieth-century historian and thinker who pioneered the study of Jewish mysticism and profoundly influenced the Zionist movement
Gershom Scholem (1897–1982) was perhaps the foremost Jewish intellectual of the twentieth century. Pioneering the study of Jewish mysticism as a legitimate academic discipline, he overturned the rationalist bias of his predecessors and revealed an extraordinary world of myth and messianism. In his youth, he rebelled against the assimilationist culture of his parents and embraced Zionism as the vehicle for the renewal of Judaism in a secular age. He moved to Palestine in 1923 and participated in the creation of the Hebrew University, where he was a towering figure for nearly seventy years.
David Biale traces Scholem’s tumultuous life of political activism and cultural criticism, including his falling-out with Hannah Arendt over the Eichmann trial. Mining a rich trove of diaries, letters, and other writings, Biale shows that his subject’s inner life illuminates his most important writings. Scholem emerges as a passionately engaged man of his times—a period that encompassed two world wars, the rise of Nazism, and the Holocaust.