Einstein letters on God, McCarthyism and Israel to be auctioned


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Five letters written by Albert Einstein to quantum physicist David Bohm covering topics including God, McCarthyism and the new State of Israel are expected to bring in some $20,000 when they are sold at auction next week.

Winner’s auction house in Jerusalem will conduct the live auction with online participation.

Written between 1951 and 1954, the letters were put up for sale by the estate of Bohm’s widow, who died a year ago. Einstein signed the letters, which are in good shape. The bidding for at least one of the letters opens at $8,000.

Bohm was working at the University of Sao Paulo and living in Brazil in 1951, where he fled after refusing to testify about his alleged links to the Communist Party to the House Un-American Activities Committee. He told Einstein, who he met when they were both working at Princeton, how unhappy he was in Brazil.

Einstein responded that for the foreseeable future, he did not see a “more reasonable political attitude” arising in the United States, and that Bohm ought to hold out in Brazil until he gets citizenship before leaving for a more “intellectual atmosphere.”

Bohm left Brazil for Israel in 1955, where he taught at the Technion Institute of Technology for two years. He met his wife, Sarah Woolfson, who he married in 1956, in Israel. A year later the couple moved to the United Kingdom, where Bohm taught at Bristol University until his death in 1992.

“Israel is intellectually active and interesting but has very narrow possibilities,” Einstein wrote. “And to go there with the intention to leave on the first occasion would be regrettable.”

Sarah Bohm died in Jerusalem, where she lived, in April 2016.

Recommended from JTA