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Berdyczewski Micha Josef

Berdyczewski Micha Josef  (18651921)

Micha Josef Berdyczewski (later Bin Gorion) was the first Hebrew writer living in Berlin to be revered in the world of German letters. He was born in Ukrainian Medzibezh and was a descendant of a famous line of Hasidic rabbis. In 1890, he moved to Germany where he combined Jewish and secular studies in essays, fiction, folklore anthologies and scholarship until his death in 1921.

Growing up in an atmosphere of extreme piety, a central theme in Berdyczewskis works was his personal struggle with the confines religious dogma that consumed the world of East European Jewry. His works represented a systematic effort to prove the existence of an authentic Jewish tradition through Jewish folklore, myths and legends that had been repressed by rabbinical authorities. Just as Martin Buber had made Hasidic tales available to acculturated German Jews, Berdyczewski showed them a new world of mostly Oriental, pre-modern Jewish myths and legends.

When the German-language writing community bestowed upon him their admiration for his talents as a Hebrew writer, Berdyczewski assumed the Hebrew pen name Bin Gorion, replacing his family name taken from a small Russian town. During this period, he began collecting short stories, anecdotes, and other literary motifs from the Scriptures and various ancient Hebrew commentaries that had largely gone unnoticed as a source of lore and popular innovation. From this wealth of material, his wife Rachel Ramberg, later with the help of their son Immanuel, translated a collection of serial works into German.

Israel, 1996, Micha Josef Berdyczewski

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