Rosenzweig was born in 1886 to intellectual and assimilated parents. He studied philosophy, history, and classics. While he was at university, many of his friends and relatives converted to Christianity, and he came close to converting, until a visit to an Orthodox synagogue on the eve of Yom Kippur inspired him to "return" to Judaism. His doctoral thesis, Hegel and the State, was published in 1920, and he then began to devote his energies to the construction of a Jewish philosophic system. The result, The Star of Redemption (1921), has become a classic, combining German idealism, existentialism, and Jewish tradition into a complex and enduring system. In 1921 a progressive paralysis set in and, although he soon lost his mobility and power of speech, he continued his intellectual activities for seven years. Rosenzweig's wife deciphered his signals, and, among other activities, he began a new translation of the Hebrew Bible (with Martin Buber, who finished it in the 1950s), utilizing a style of German that attempted to retain the spirit of the original Hebrew.
Franz Kafka -- July 3, 1883 - June 3, 1924 Franz Kafka was born to middle-class Jewish parents in Prague, Czechoslovakia on July 3, 1883. He received a law degree at the University of Prague. After performing an obligatory year of unpaid service as law clerk for the civil and criminal courts, he obtained a position in the workman's compensation division of the Austrian government. Always neurotic, insecure, and filled with a sense of inadequacy, his writing is a search for personal fulfillment and understanding. He wrote very slowly and deliberately, publishing very little in his lifetime. At his death he asked a close friend to burn his remaining manuscripts, but the friend refused the request. Instead the friend arranged for publication Kafka's longer stories, which have since brought him worldwide fame and have influenced many contemporary writers. His works include The Metamorphosis, The Castle, The Trial, and Amerika. Kafka was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in August 1917. As his disease progressed, his throat became affected by the TB and he could not eat regularly because it was painful. He died from starvation in a sanatorium in Kierling, near Vienna, after admitting himself for treatment there on April 10, 1924. He died on June 3 at the age of 40.