The rags-to-riches story of one of Europe’s great entrepreneurs and a founding father of modern Jewish secular culture
The name “Schocken”—now primarily associated with the prestigous publishing house—was once emblazoned over a vast commercial empire; across Europe, it stood for quality consumer goods and uplifting culture made available for working people.
A sweeping, colorful saga, The Patron is the first biography of Salman Schocken, founder of a large department store chain and Jewish philanthropic titan. We follow Schocken’s transformation from an impoverished migrant selling textiles door-to-door to a captain of German industry, at once media magnate, collector, talent scout, and patron. The merchandizing millionaire then harnessed his fortune to a vision: to disseminate Jewish secular culture to the Jewish masses, in much the same way as he marketed well-designed coffeepots to the working class. His task, as he saw it, was not to spread culture but to create it, through publishing houses, newspapers, and the patronage of such influential modern thinkers such as Martin Buber and Thomas Mann. But as the Nazi regime closed in on Schocken’s empire, the resilient tycoon transferred his energies and passions to Palestine and New York.
The Patron fills in a missing piece of twentieth-century history, the towering life of a self-made man who, with courage and tenacity, helped fashion a people’s national and cultural renaissance.