Simon Rawidowicz

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Simon Rawidowicz, 1932

Simon Rawidowicz (b. 30 October 1897 in Grajewo, Congress Poland; † 20 July 1957 in Waltham, USA)[1][2] was a Jewish philosopher and historian of philosophy.

Life and work

Simon Rawidowicz[3] came to Berlin in 1919. In the same year he founded the short-lived journal “Unsere Freiheit”. From 1920 he taught as a teacher at the Hebrew Language School. From 1921 Rawidowicz studied at the Friedrich Wilhelm University. At the same time he continued his writing activities and founded the Hebrew publishing house “Ayanot” in 1922. From 1928 to 1930 he was editor of the journal “Ha-Tekuphah”[4]. In 1929 Rawidowicz was employed as librarian of the Jewish community library in Berlin. In 1933 he emigrated to England, where he held lectureships first at Jew’s College in London and, from 1941, at Leeds University. In 1948 Rawidowicz was appointed to the Chicago College of Jewish Studies, from which he moved to Brandeis University, Waltham (Mass.), in 1951. There he taught as chairman of the Department of Jewish and Near Eastern Studies until his death. From the Berlin years, exacerbated by his parallel application for a professorship in Jerusalem in 1933/34, Rawidowicz was in some competition with Leo Strauss until the American period.

In Berlin, Rawidowicz vigorously campaigned for a revival of Hebrew. He formed the center of a culturally and politically very active intellectual circle, which in turn played an important role in the contemporary Zionist movement in the capital.

From Rawidowicz’s extensive scholarly work, numerous studies on medieval and modern Jewish intellectual history stand out. Above all, he made a name for himself as a researcher on Maimonides and as an editor of the Jewish writings of Moses Mendelssohn. However, he also dealt with current topics of Judaism and Israel politics. His Feuerbach studies (first published in 1931) are still extremely valuable.

In 1953, Rawidowicz was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[5]

Brandeis University has hosted the Annual Simon Rawidowicz Memorial Lecture since 1964. In 2009, it was given by the historian Saul Friedländer (“Voice of the Victims Challenges of an Integrated History of the Holocaust”).

Rawidowicz was married to Esther Eugenie Klee (1900-1980), a daughter of the Zionist Alfred Klee (1875-1943, Westerbork transit camp). The son Benjamin Ravid teaches today as “Jennie and Mayer Weisman Professor of Jewish History” in Waltham.


  • Portrait of the Hebrew poet Chajim Nachman Bialik together with his biography. Berlin: Soncino Society, 1926.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach’s Philosophical Youth Development and His Position on Hegel to 1839, o. O. [Berlin]: [Reuther & Reichard], (1927).
  • Ludwig Feuerbach’s Philosophy. Ursprung und Schicksal, Berlin: Reuther & Reichard, 1931 (Reprint: Berlin: de Gruyter, 1964).
  • On Jewish Learning, Chicago: College of Jewish Studies, 1950.
  • Jerusalem und Babylon (1957), reprinted in Michael Brenner et al. (eds.): Jüdische Geschichte lesen, Munich 2003.
  • Studies in Jewish Thought, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974.
  • Conversations with Bialik, Dvir, Tel Aviv 1983.
  • Israel: the ever-dying people and other essays. Ed. by Benjamin C. I. Ravid, Rutherford [et al.] : Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Pr., 1986.
  • State of Israel, Diaspora, and Jewish Continuity: Essays on the “Ever-Dying People,” Hanover, NH [et al.]: Brandeis Univ. Press [et al.], 1998.
  • Between Babylon and Jerusalem. Selected Writings, ed. by David N. Myers and Benjamin C. Ravid, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2020.


  • Moses Mendelssohn: Schriften zum Judentum (Gesammelte Schriften: Jubiläumsausgabe. In collaboration with Fritz Bamberger [et al.] edited by Ismar Elbogen [et al.] Vol. 7). Edited by Simon Rawidowicz, Berlin: Akademie-Verl., 1930 (facsimile reprint of the Berlin 1930 edition: Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1974).


Web links

Individual references

  1. John F. Oppenheimer (ed.) et al: Encyclopedia of Judaism. 2. Edition. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh et al. 1971, ISBN 3-570-05964-2, sp. 652.
  2. differing information at the Lexikon deutsch-jüdischer Autoren, p. 191
  3. Alternative name spellings according to DNB: Shim’on Ravidovits and Shim’on Ravidovitsh.
  4. Jewish Virtually Library to “Ha-Tekuphah” (The Season).
  5. Members of the American Academy. Listed by election year, 1950-1999 ([1]). Retrieved 23 September 2015