Jiří (Georgo) Mordechai Langer was a Hebrew poet, scholar and essayist, journalist and teacher.

Early Life

Langer had been born to the assimilated Jewish family and attended Czech schools. However, already in his early years he felt attracted to Judaism and studied Talmud and Kaballah with his friend from school: Alfred Fuchs. At the age of 19 he decided to leave his family home and went alone to Belz to join the hasidic court of Yisakhar Dov Rokeaḥ. Later this journey and his experience in the hassidic shtetl he had described in the book 9 gates to hasidic misteries (cz. "Devět bran"). At the outbreak of World War I he was drafted to the Austro-Hungarian army, but refused to obey military orders because of his religious beliefs. For refusing to obey orders he was imprisoned in military jail. After being released he came back to the Rokeah's court upon its exile to Hungary during the war years. In this time he deepened his studies of Torah, Talmud, Midrash, and Kabbalah and lived the hasidic life together with the community.

With the end of World War I Jiří Langer left the hasidic court and decided to move to Vienna, where he studied at the Hebrew Pedagogic Academy. This was also a time when his philosophy turned into the direction of religious Zionism. Later he came back to Prague, where he joined the work of Zionist institutions and worked as teacher of Jewish religion in Czech schools. This was also a time when he developed his friendship with Franz Kafka and Max Brod.

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