This chapter examines the link between Jewish emancipation and the Enlightenment, exploring the difficulties of adapting Judaism to the secular world without sacrificing its distinctive character. Many educated Jews believed that contact with secular thought, far from harming Judaism, could provide much-needed renewal. From the 1760s onwards there was an increasing number of Jews, known as maskilim, who wanted to enlarge the scope of education by promoting the study of Hebrew and wider interest in science, philosophy, and mathematics. On the one hand, the intellectual leaders of the German Jewry were seeking to renew Judaism and reconcile it with the Enlightenment. On the other, the social vanguard of German Jewry felt less and less compunction about those customs and practices that had hitherto kept Jews distinct. In any case, while the new generation of educated Jews was anxious to enter the society of the Enlightenment, that society was decidedly lukewarm about welcoming them.
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