A Preacher in Exile: Shemaryahu Levin and the Making of American Zionism 1914-1919

03/07/2017 - 7:00pm
Boone Center
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
Judah Bernstein
“It is no exaggeration,” insisted one veteran of American Zionism, “to say that he reared a whole generation of informed and devoted [American] Zionists and adoring followers.” This referred not to Louis Brandeis, Stephen Wise, or any of the other fixtures in the pantheon of American Zionism, but rather to a European Zionist official who spent the World War I years in America, Shemaryahu Levin. Though largely forgotten today, Levin served as one of the most effective propagandists on the early American Zionist scene. Employing an oratorical style that enraptured thousands, Levin advanced a sharp critique of the project of American-Jewish integration, arguing that only in Palestine could Jews achieve completeness. This lecture will explore Levin’s celebrity, his views of America, and the degree to which his critique resonated in American Zionists circles. It will argue that a concerted focus on Levin upends long-held assumptions about the formation of Zionism in America in the early twentieth century.

Judah Bernstein is a Ph.D candidate at New York University in the joint History - Hebrew and Judaic Studies program. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from Yeshiva University with a BA in history in 2010, and received his MA in modern Jewish history from Bernard Revel Graduate School in 2011.


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