The 1948 correspondence between Samuel Lewis and Gershom Scholem
Boaz Huss & Jonatan Meir
This article presents the brief correspondence between Samuel Lewis (a.k.a. Sufi Sam), one of the founding figures of the New Age movement, and Gershom Scholem, the great scholar of Kabbalah. The correspondence, which took place in the spring of 1948, in the midst of the hostilities between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, followed the publication of the second edition of Scholem’s grand opus, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, in which Lewis found much interest. The article, which presents some newly-discovered documents from Scholem’s archive, examines the publication and early reception of Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, the encounters Scholem had with contemporary occultists and spiritual seekers, and new information concerning esoteric-Kabbalistic circles in the United States, which is found in the letters. The correspondence emphasizes the cultural and personal differences between the herald of the Jewish New Age and the founder of the academic study of Jewish Mysticism, and at the same time it highlights the mutual interests and cultural exchanges between academic scholars and modern occultists.
Gershom Scholem; Samuel Lewis; Sufi Sam; Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism; Kabbalah Scholarship; Occult Kabbalah; Kabbalah in America; Jewish Theosophists
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