A Late Expressionist-Literary Critic-Literary Scholar

The Estate of Rudolf Kayser

Rudolf Kayser, who died on February 5, 1964, is not necessarily known today, even among experts on literary history. This is despite the fact that Kayser was one of the most influential figures in literary circles in the Weimar Republic prior to his emigration in 1933. He was the chief editor of the literary journal Die Neue Rundschau, in publication to this day by S. Fischer Publishers in Germany. In addition to his role as an editor, Kayser authored literary compisitionsworks, including treatises on the history of literature and philosophy.

Rudolf Kayser was born on November 28, 1889 in Parchim, a small city northwest of Berlin. He passed his matriculation exams successfully in 1910. During the four years that followed, he studied German literature, literary history, philosophy and art history in Berlin, Munich and Würzburg, where he completed his studies in 1914 with a doctorate in philosophy.

Kayser married Ilse Einstein, one of the step-daughters of Albert Einstein. The marriage brought Kayser close to Einstein himself, a relationship that was intensive and far exceeded the closeness within the family. The relationship between the two also continued after Ilse’s death in France in 1934, after ten years of marriage. Kayser wrote a biography of Einstein, which was published under the pseudonym Anton Reiser, and only in an English edition.

Already as a student, Kayser composed literary texts. One of the important works of the young author was the novel Moses Tod (“The Death of Moses”), published in 1921 in the expressionist book series, “The Last Day” (Der jüngste Tag) under the auspices of the well know publisher Kurt Wolff. Kayser’s works as an editor are considered more significant – for example, the anthology of expressionist poetry, “The Tiding” (Verkündigung) (1921). His books on the history of philosophy, such as his biography of Barukh Spinoza, as well as his contributions as a literary critic – including in the journal Die Neue Rundschau – received much attention.

 

פרו של קייזר, מות משה, שיצא לאור ב-1921 ככרך האחרון בסדרה האקספרסיוניסטית "היום האחרון" אצל המו"ל קורט וולף
Kayser’s book, Moses Tod, published in 1921 as the last volume in the expressionist series Der jüngste Tag published by Kurt Wolff

In his role as chief editor of the journal, Kayser occupied a key position in the world of German literature, which is manifested in his intensive correspondence with authors of his day. His estate includes many letters from Gerhart Hauptmann, Herman Hesse, Oskar Loerke Heinrich and Thomas Mann, and Stefan Zweig. In many cases the relationship with these authors continued after Kayser left the editorial board of the journal in 1932.

As the brother-in-law of Albert Einstein, who was hated by the Nazis, as a Jew and as a liberal literary critic, Kayser had not choice but to emigrate from Germany after the Nazi rise to power in 1933. Initially, his path took him to Holland, but following the death of his first wife Ilse, Kayser resumed his flight, arriving in the Untied States. There, he was married for the second time, and was employed as a lecturer in literature in various colleges, ultimately securing a professorship at Brandeis Universeity. In the early 1960s, Kayser visited Israel and wrote about his visit. The text was distributed among his acquaintances and friends. In February 1964, Kayser died of a heart ailment in his apartment in New York.

Already within a year of Rudolf Kayser’s death, , Kurt David Wahrman, then Director of the National and University Library, contacted Kayser’s widow and arranged the transfer of the estate to the library in Jerusalem. The material reached the library only after the decease of Eva Kayser in 2000. Of late, all of the material has been arranged and catalogued, and is now available to scholars.

 

Rudolf Kayser in the 1920s
Rudolf Kayser with his first wife, Ilse Einstein, c. 1921
ספרו של קייזר, מות משה, שיצא לאור ב-1921 ככרך האחרון בסדרה האקספרסיוניסטית "היום האחרון" אצל המו"ל קורט וולף
Kayser’s book, Moses Tod, published in 1921 as the last volume in the expressionist series Der jüngste Tag published by Kurt Wolff
האנתולוגיה "הבשורה" של שירה אקספרסיוניסטית שנערכה על ידי קייזר, 1921
Kayser’s personal dedication in his book about the philosopher Immanuel Kant to Eva, who wold later become his first wife, 1936
הביוגרפיה של ברוך שפינוזה מאת רודולף קייזר, 1932
Frontispiece of Kayser’s book about Immanuel Kant, 1935
זכרונות על אשתו הראשונה אילזה (אינשטיין), 1936
Biography of Baruch Spinoza by Rudolf Kayser, 1932
עמוד השער של ספרו של קייזר על עמנואל קנט, 1935
Biography of Baruch Spinoza by Rudolf Kayser, 1932
הקדשה אישית של קייזר בספרו על הפילוסוף עמנואל קנט לאווה, לימים אשתו השנייה, 1936
Memories of his first wife, Ilse (Einstein), 1936

 

Menachem Begin: The Man of a Thousand Faces

What (or who) do Mr. Halperin, Rabbi Sassover, and Dr. Konigshoffer have in common? How the head of the Irgun evaded capture by the British Police, time and again

It was the days of the British Mandate in the Land of Israel. Jewish underground organizations were at the height of their activity against the colonial authorities. Special attention was being paid to the Irgun organization headed by Menachem Begin, which the British considered a terrorist group. Begin and the Irgun were indeed a particularly bothersome thorn in the side of the waning British Empire. The group was responsible for hundreds of rebellious act against the regime, including the breach of the Acre prison and the bombing of the King David Hotel, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of members of the Mandatory administration, among others.

As the Irgun’s leader, Menachem Begin was assigned a place of high priority on the British Secret Intelligence Service wanted list. A bounty for his capture and rewards for information on his whereabouts were offered to the public. Begin was forced into hiding, moving from safe house to safe house, even using disguises and false identities. These were simple ruses but they were successful time and time again. Whenever the British began to close in on him, Begin simply packed up his family and belongings, and disappeared. He would then resurface elsewhere with a different identity.

A Palestine Police announcement from February 1947, offering compensation to anyone who could offer information leading to the arrest of the wanted men on the poster. First from the left in the first row: Menachem Begin. From the Jabotinsky Institute collection
A Palestine Police announcement from February 1947, offering compensation to anyone who could offer information leading to the arrest of the wanted men on the poster. First from the left in the first row: Menachem Begin. From the Jabotinsky Institute collection

 

The Pole Who Never Left His House

Name: Israel Halperin

Address : #15 Tsirelson St., the Hasidof Neighborhood, Petah Tikva

Profession: Law student

Period of time living under this identity: May, 1944 – February, 1945

Begin on his false identity:

“…our neighbors had not the least suspicion. They found it all natural and understandable. They were told that the Halperin family was a family of refugees from Poland who had been unable to find accommodation in the town. True, the head of the family did not go out to work every day but for this too a plausible explanation was found. We voluntarily told the neighbors that we lived off an allocation frim the refugee aid organization and that I was preparing for the Palestinian law examinations – hence my working at home.”

The house where Menachem Begin lived as Israel Halperin in the Hasidof neighborhood in Petah Tikva. From the Jabotinsky Institute collection. For more photos of the house click here for the Petah Tikva online archive
The house where Menachem Begin lived as Israel Halperin in the Hasidof neighborhood in Petah Tikva. From the Jabotinsky Institute collection. For more photos of the house click here for the Petah Tikva online archive

 

 

Please Address Me as “The Honorable Rabbi”

Name: Rabbi Israel Sassover

Address: Corner of Habashan St. and Yehoshua Bin Nun St., Tel Aviv

Profession: “At the end of thirty days I had changed sufficiently to become Israel Sassover, who might have been a modern Rabbi, or a politician in one of the religious parties, or merely a penitent sinner”

Period of time living under this identity: February, 1945 – early 1947

Begin on this identity:

“My beard and the status it conferred on me also imposed certain obligations in my new surroundings. […] I was invited to become a regular participant at prayers in the synagogue […] They received their new neighbor with characteristically benevolent curiosity. They asked me questions which I had to answer. They gave me my regular place, and thenceforward I became one of them. I heard later, in confidence, that if the British had remained in Eretz Israel ten years longer I might possibly have risen to high eminence and been elected second assistant to the third warden of the synagogue. I was quite popular, though I never took part in any political discussions – or perhaps that was the reason.”

Menachem Begin disguised as Rabbi Israel Sassover, with his wife Aliza and their son Benny. Photo: GPO
Menachem Begin disguised as Rabbi Israel Sassover, with his wife Aliza and their son Benny. Photo: GPO

What the neighbors had to say about him:

“I think they came to the conclusion that I was a good-for-nothing who had had a large dowry from his wife. They could hardly have believed me capable of any work. They pitied my wife deeply, especially the women. ‘Poor young thing,’ they said, ‘she must have been forced to marry this loafer, this perpetual student.’ I was certainly not interested in dispelling their illusions.”

 

 

The Well-Behaved German 

The forged Dr. Koenigshoffer passport. From the Jabotinsky Institute collection
The forged Dr. Konigshoffer passport. From the Jabotinsky Institute collection

Name: Dr. Jona Konigshoffer

Address: The corner of Rosenbaum St. and Yosef Eliyahu St., Tel Aviv

Profession: Doctor

Nationality: German-Jewish

Period of time living under this identity: January, 1947 – the departure of the British from the Land of Israel

Begin on this identity:

“Quite by a chance a passport had been found in one of the public libraries in the name of Dr. Jona Konigshoffer.  It was rather a long name, but I had the advantage of being purely “Germanic.” It was a name reeking of loyalty and the preservation of law and order. So it was decided to suit me to the passport, or rather, to adapt my new photograph to it.

Bonus Fact:

The local children in the street would laugh at Menachem Begin’s son and make fun of the last name by twisting the meaning with a pun:

‘Konigs-bluffer.’ Begin reflected that “they did not know how serious their cruel joke was.”

 

All quotations in this article were taken from the book, The Revolt by Menachem Begin, published by Dell, 1978

For further information, visit the Jabotinsky Institute Archive online

 

If you liked this article, try these:

The Beautiful Postcards Theodor Herzl Sent to His Daughter

That Time David Ben-Gurion’s Father Sent Him Some Cash

Ze’ev Jabotinsky Comes Home Again

When Marilyn Monroe Sprained Her Ankle for Israel

The story of how Marilyn Monroe stole the show at a celebratory match featuring Israeli and American soccer stars

Marilyn Monroe was given the honor of kicking off the game between Hapoel and a team of U.S. All-Stars. Photo: Eliyahu Atar

In 1957, a special telegram was sent to the Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer team. Just before embarking on a celebratory trip to the United States on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the State of Israel, the players were asked “Which American would you like to meet during your trip?” The players answered without hesitation: “As athletes, we would like to meet with the Brooklyn Dodgers. As men – with Marilyn Monroe.” This required quite a few strings to be pulled and quite a few phone calls to be made, but eventually the players’ wish came true.

The glitzy event featured a friendly soccer match on May 12th, 1957 between Hapoel and a team of American All-Stars, which took place under the slogan “Long Live the State of Israel!” The venue was historic Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who would move out to sunny Los Angeles later that year. In the stands were New York Mayor Robert Wagner, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Abba Eban, senators, cultural figures, representatives of Jewish organizations and many more. To top it all off, none other than Mrs. Marilyn Monroe would have the honor of kicking off the game!

Footage of the Historic Moment:

“Suddenly an open convertible burst into the stadium,” wrote Dan Pachter in the Israeli Davar Daily, “and in the backseat, there she was – the Hapoel mascot – the movie star, Marilyn Monroe!!! Three exclamation points will not suffice to emphasize the enthusiasm of the crowd. Marilyn rose to her feet and waved to every section of the audience – the same fair-haired Marilyn, who so artfully demonstrates her natural mischief. A marching band and a group of cheerleaders strode before her and behind them – the two teams in line.”

But the climax was what happened next: “The blonde movie star appeared on the field in minimal blue attire, featuring cleavage that occasionally tended to delve into dangerous dimensions,” the Herut newspaper reported. “Marilyn had to kick the ball no less than three times – twice for the many photographers who had gathered on the field and once for the soccer players.”

 

The cover of "Soccer" monthly magazine, June 1957. From left to right – legendary Israeli goalkeeper Ya'akov Hodorov, Marilyn Monroe and New York State Supreme Court Justice Samuel Leibowitz
The cover of “Soccer”, a monthly Hebrew magazine, June 1957. From left to right: Legendary Israeli goalkeeper Ya’akov Hodorov, Marilyn Monroe and New York State Supreme Court Justice Samuel Leibowitz

 

And while we wish the report ended here, this was not the case: “Her second kick scored a direct hit – right in the face of United Press photographer Joel Landau. After the final kick, the actress left the field limping, while leaning on the arm of the happily beaming Judge Samuel Leibowitz, her official chaperone for the game.”

The Hapoel team ended up winning the thrilling match by the score of 6 to 4. Legendary Israeli goalkeeper Ya’akov Khodorov had a few particularly close moments with Monroe – holding her hand, speaking with her and taking pictures with her several times. Unsurprisingly, after the game was over, he was asked if the four goals he conceded were a result of being starstruck by the celebrity actress.

Ya’akov Khodorov kisses Marilyn Monroe on the cheek. Photo: Eliyahu Atar, published in Davar on May 31st, 1957. Click the image to see the full article featuring more pictures.

 

“The papers wrote that I got confused and let in some unnecessary goals because I had been near Marilyn Monroe,” the goalkeeper said after the game. “True, I was a little excited, but who wouldn’t be excited next to her?”

 

If you liked this article, try these:

Meet Queen Esther – Israel’s First Beauty Queen

Who Won the Coveted Title of “Israel’s Eating Champ” in 1953?

The Beautiful Postcards Theodor Herzl Sent to His Daughter

The Man Who Named the First Israeli Car – The Susita

The story of how the first “blue and white” car got its name, and the answer to the age-old question: Do camels really like eating Susitas?

משפחת שוב והסוסיתא השנייה, 1964. צילום: יוסף שוב

The year was 1959. The pioneer Israeli automobile manufacturer, Autocars, decided to announce the arrival of a new Israeli vehicle to the general public. This was no trivial matter – in the midst of very difficult years for the young state, while many automobile companies around the world were boycotting Israel due to pressure from the Arab world, this “blue and white” vehicle was exciting and important news. The big question was: What should this new Israeli car be called?

In order to market the upcoming release of the new automobile, Autocars turned to the public for help and published an ad in the newspapers: “Name the First Israeli Car.” To seal the deal, prize money was offered for the winner of the campaign.

Autocars' announcement of a naming competition for the first Israeli automobile
Autocars’ announcement of a naming competition for the first Israeli automobile

Like many in Israel, Yosef Shuv, a newly married agriculture student from Rehovot, saw the ad in the paper. His stroke of brilliance came to him while sitting (of all places) on the toilet. “One day I went into the bathroom and said to myself, ‘Okay, this is the moment I come up with the name. It’s now or never,'” he recalls, “and I immediately thought of the names of Israeli historical sites. I thought that an Israeli car should be named for an Israeli place. Susita was an ancient city east of the Sea of Galilee, and I immediately realized that it was an extraordinary name. “

An aerial photograph of the Susita archaeological site. Photo: Michael Eisenberg
An aerial photograph of the Susita archaeological site. Photo: Michael Eisenberg

It seems that everyone wanted to be a part of the historic naming of the first Israeli car. No less than 2,355 entries arrived at the Autocars offices in Haifa. And, in the last week of 1959, Shuv was informed that the name he had proposed- “Susita” -was chosen from the thousands of entries. The ancient name incorporates the Hebrew word sus, meaning horse. The city’s name in Greek, Hippos, has the same meaning.

It seems that Shuv was not alone in his moment of brilliance, however. Others had, in fact, proposed the same name. Autocars management therefore held a raffle to decide who would win the actual prize money, and it was here that Shuv’s luck came into play, with his name being selected for the grand prize of 500 Israeli pounds (the currency which preceded the New Israeli Shekel). The prize money was a considerable sum for the newlywed student.

But this was not the end of Yosef Shuv’s relationship with the Susita. When he was informed of his victory, Shuv insisted on seeing the factory for himself to observe how the first Israeli car was manufactured. Later, he fulfilled another dream when – thanks to a large discount from Autocars – he purchased his first Susita.

But alas, Shuv’s Susita didn’t last long and was soon involved in an accident with a flashy Renault. Shuv was unharmed, but his Susita was another story.

The accident involving Shuv's first Susita, 1964. Photographed on Aluf Sadeh Road, Ramat Gan
The accident involving Shuv’s first Susita, 1964. Photographed on Aluf Sadeh Road, Ramat Gan

 

By now, he was hooked and the new automobile enthusiast used the insurance money to buy his second Susita.

The second Susita. Photographed in 1968 in the courtyard of the Shuv family home in Ganei Am. Sarah Shuv is behind the wheel. Photo: Yosef Shuv
The second Susita. Photographed in 1968 in the courtyard of the Shuv family home in Ganei Am. Sarah Shuv is behind the wheel. Photo: Yosef Shuv

Later on, he would exchange it for a third – this time the station wagon model.

The Shuvs’ third Susita, transporting Gerbera plants, 1972. Photo: Yosef Shuv.
The Shuvs’ third Susita, transporting Gerbera plants, 1972. Photo: Yosef Shuv.

 

His children fondly remember the trips to school in the beloved Susita. When the family moved to the United States for a year in 1972, Yosef again parted from his Susita, this time for good.

The second Susita. Amos Shuv, Yosef's son, is about a year and a half old in this picture. Photo: Yosef Shuv.
The second Susita. Amos Shuv, Yosef’s son, is about a year and a half old in this picture. Photo: Yosef Shuv.

Aside from naming the Susita, the young student managed to go on to accomplish a few other things in his lifetime. Dr. Ysef Shuv is a world expert and cultivator of Gerbera flowers, and even won the Minister of Agriculture Prize for his work.

Dr. Yosef Shuv at the Ganei Am greenhouse, 1983
Dr. Yosef Shuv at the Ganei Am greenhouse, 1983

Finally, we asked Dr. Shuv the controversial question that has perplexed many when it comes to the legend of the Susita: Was the first Israeli automobile indeed a delicacy for hungry desert-roaming camels? “The myth about camels liking to chew on Susitas is, of course, nonsense,” Shuv answered definitively. As an award-winning agricultural expert, he probably knows what he’s talking about.

The third Susita, a station wagon. Photographed on a family trip to the Elah Valley, 1972. Photo: Yosef Shuv.
The third Susita, a station wagon. Photographed on a family trip to the Elah Valley, 1972. Photo: Yosef Shuv.

 

 

Our many thanks to Moran Shuv for her help in preparing this article. You can read the full Hebrew interview Moran held with her father Yosef, here.

 

If you liked this article, try these:

Meet Queen Esther – Israel’s First Beauty Queen

Who Won the Coveted Title of “Israel’s Eating Champ” in 1953?

When the Child Prisoners of Cyprus Dreamt of Israel