Albert Einstein letter grappling with religion sells for £2.3M at auction
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Albert Einstein letter grappling with religion sells for £2.3M at auction

Famous scientist's letter of just one-and-a-half-pages stunned auctioneers in New York, with bidders expecting it to sell for one million

Physicist Albert Einstein
Physicist Albert Einstein

A small handwritten letter from Albert Einstein on religion, Judaism and being Jewish has sold at auction for an incredible £2.3m ($2.9 million).

The letter, just one and a half pages long, was written in his later years to a German philosopher, and stunned auctioneers in New York this week, who had hoped it would sell for around £1 million.

In it, the legendary physicist says “the word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses… The Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends. No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can [for me] change anything about this.”

He said Judaism was “like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition,” adding: “The Jewish people, to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples”.

He continued: “As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

The private letter was written to Eric Gutkind in 1954, when Einstein was 74 years of age, and auctioneers said it was the perfect example of the Jewish genius’s thinking on faith and religion.

“This remarkably candid, private letter was written a year before Einstein’s death and remains the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views,” said Christie’s auction house in a statement.

Listen to this week’s episode of The Jewish Views podcast! SPECIAL EDITION – Chanukah in the Square!

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments