Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jews in the Maryamiyya

On August 15 I described Rabbi Yéhouda Léon Askénazi as "almost the only significant Jewish figure to have taken a deep interest in Traditionalism." And then on August 18, I read a new(-ish) article by Paul B. Fenton, "Les judéos-soufis de Lausanne: Un point de rencontre dans la mouvance guénonienne" (in Réceptions de la cabale, ed. Pierre Gisel and Lucie Kaennel; Tel Aviv: L'éclat, 2007, pp. 283-313) in which one argument (made in a book published in Israel, by the way)  is that there were a disproportionate number of Jews among the followers of Frithjof Schuon in Lausanne.

Fenton does not pursue this argument, which is made in passing. And I am not sure that he is right. He certainly draws attention to another very significant Jewish figure with a real interest in Traditionalism (see separate post), and he is right that there were a number of Jews among Schuon's followers in Lausanne, some of whom became Maryami Muslims and some of whom did not. He points to a continuing interest in the kabbalah among these, which Schuon did not share--strangely, he held that there was no inititation in Judaism.

But a disproportionate number? Disproportionate to what? To the overall Jewish element in the population of Switzerland, perhaps--but I am not sure that is a relevant measure. In general, what was the rate of Jewish participation in the intellectual avant-garde of the time?

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