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The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature 1749–1939Emancipation and its Discontents$
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Ritchie Robertson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248889

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248889.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2022

Enlightenment

Enlightenment

Chapter:
(p.9) 1 Enlightenment
Source:
The ‘Jewish Question’ in German Literature 1749–1939
Author(s):

Ritchie Robertson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248889.003.0001

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.

Keywords:   Jewish emancipation, Enlightenment, Judaism, Jews, secular thought, maskilim, German Jewry

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