Gershom Scholem was born Gerhard Scholem to an assimilated German-Jewish family in Berlin. In 1915, he enrolled at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where he studied mathematics, philosophy, and Hebrew. He met Martin Buber, Shmuel Yosef (S.Y.) Agnon, and other Jewish philosophers. He studied mathematical logic at the University of Jena and received a degree in Semitic languages at the University of Munich. Having become a Zionist as a young man, Scholem left Germany to live in Palestine (changing his first name) in 1923, along with S.D. Goitein. He got a job as librarian at the new Hebrew University of Jerusalem and spent the rest of his life at that institution. He is widely regarded as the founder and pre-eminent scholar of modern Jewish mysticism, becoming the first Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University. Martin Buber said, "All of us have students, schools, but only Gershom Scholem has created a whole academic discipline!" His close friends included Walter Benjamin and Leo Strauss, and selected letters from their correspondence were published.
Prof. Scholem published over 40 volumes and close to 700 articles and trained three generations of scholars of Kabbala. He's best known for his collection of lectures called Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1941) and for his biography Sabbatai Zevi, the Mystical Messiah (1973). His book On Kabbalah and Its Symbolism (1965) another collection of speeches and essays, has helped to spread knowledge of Jewish mysticism among non-Jews.