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Nima Adlerblum

(1881 - 1974)

ADLERBLUM, NIMA (1881–1974), author and philosopher. Adlerblum, a daughter of Ḥayyim *Hirschensohn , was born in Jerusalem but left the city with her parents when she was about 11, moving to Turkey and later to the United States. She studied in Paris and subsequently at Columbia University, where she became closely associated with John Dewey. Her doctoral thesis, A Study of Gersonides in His Proper Perspective (Columbia University Press, 1926), was actually a call for a new approach to Jewish philosophy, which she felt was wrongly assessed by being viewed in its relation to other contemporary philosophies, maintaining that its true main thrust could be detected only when it was examined within its own environment. This conception, she argued, was best expressed by *Judah Halevi (1075–1145) who, in his Kuzari, maintained that Judaism had its own spiritual ideas and ideals, which were intimately bound with the historic experience of the Jewish people. Her attitude coincided with John Dewey's philosophical theory that the value of abstract thinking depended on its concern with living experience and its fruitful application to life, but her views were challenged and criticized by many scholars.

In her A Perspective of Jewish Life Through Its Festivals (1930) she further expounded her philosophical theory of Judaism, and in her Elan Vital of the Jewish Woman (1934) she stressed that woman's sensitivity in certain areas was vital and would enrich Jewish scholarship when it was opened up to them. She also published philosophical treatises on medieval Jewish thinkers. Adlerblum served on the international committee for spreading the teaching of John Dewey (outside America), was a member of the American Philosophical Association, and a life fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters. She was active in Hadassah from its inception, serving on its National Board from 1922 to 1935.

After an absence of 80 years she returned to Israel. A number of her articles on the vivid impact of her childhood in Jerusalem on her thinking were included in The Jewish Heritage Series edited by Rabbi Leo Jung (New York).

[Penina Peli (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.