Gandhi’s Jewish Lover
A less-explored aspect of the Mahatma’s life
A new biography reveals that Mahatma Gandhi at one point fell in love with and left his wife for Hermann Kallenbach, a German Jewish bodybuilder and architect. Ynet quotes the Daily Mail quoting the book: “Gandhi wrote to Kallenbach about ‘how completely you have taken possession of my body. This is slavery with a vengeance.’” Gandhi nicknamed himself and Kallenbach, respectively, “Upper House” and “Lower House,” which I’d guess is, um, an architecture joke.
It is well known that Gandhi’s philosophy included a component called Brahmacharya that involved “active celibacy,” such as sleeping naked with his grand-niece. However, the revelation about Kallenbach appears to be new: Wikipedia, a venue not normally known for coyness or euphemism, identifies him merely as Gandhi’s “very close friend.” Kallenbach was a fascinating figure in his own right, an important patron of Gandhi while the Great Soul honed his ideas about nonviolence in early-20th-century South Africa, and subsequently an ardent Zionist who later tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade Gandhi to endorse the Jewish state.
The biography, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and former New York Times executive editor Joe Lelyveld, was the subject of a cover rave in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review. The Wall Street Journal has a much more critical take—less on the book than on Gandhi himself.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.