Jewish Studies Haskalah
by
Yahil Zaban
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 January 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0095

Introduction

Haskalah, or the Jewish Enlightenment movement, is the name for a relatively small group of Jewish intellectuals in central and eastern Europe from the last decades of the 18th century until the end of the 19th century. The Haskalah movement sought to rejuvenate the Jewish way of life by synthesizing it with secular knowledge and reshaping it according to Enlightenment values. By appealing for a reform in Jewish education and for the acquisition of scientific and philosophical knowledge—the word Haskalah means knowledge and wisdom—the Maskilim (the Haskalah advocates) had broadened the horizons of Jewish thought and redefined Jewishness in modern terms. The Maskilim, although many of them were conservative and some served as rabbis, were well known for criticizing the rabbinical authorities and the Hasidic movement; for their critique of the socioeconomic structure of Jewish communities; and for their fervent advocacy for the inclusion of Enlightenment ideas of liberty, tolerance, and rationalism in Jewish culture. Due to the vehement orthodox reaction to the suggested reforms, the Haskalah was shaped in light of a constant conflict with religious thinking, oscillating between militant reaction to tradition and moderate attempts at reconciliation. The Haskalah movement, looking for the spiritual and cultural renewal of Jewish society, paved the way for a new approach to Hebrew and the Hebrew Scriptures. Modern Jewish literature, history, and nationalism all originated in the intellectual sphere of the Jewish Enlightenment. In the last third of the 19th century, in light of the rise of anti-Semitism and the 1881 pogroms in the Russian Empire, the Haskalah ideas of integration and tolerance seemed irrelevant and naïve, and the national movement took its place as the representative of modern Jewry.

General Overviews

There are not too many books that focus on the history of the Jewish Enlightenment. For many years, Bernfeld 1897 was the only work that attempted a chronological account of the Haskalah. Klausner 1949–1953, a monumental project, although written in Hebrew, gives a well-documented and detailed description of the Haskalah zeitgeist along with a historical evaluation of the period. The most valuable contribution to the Haskalah research is Feiner 2004, which provides a thorough account of the early years of the Haskalah movement. The recent study Feiner 2010, picking up where The Jewish Enlightenment ended, describes the dissemination of Jewish Enlightenment and the cultural wars that ensued from it.

  • Bernfeld, Simon. Dor Ta’hapukhot. Warsaw: Tushiyah, 1897.

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    A monographic research that gives a comprehensive account of the Haskalah period, while denouncing its effects and outcomes.

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    • Feiner, Shmuel. The Jewish Enlightenment. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

      DOI: 10.9783/9780812200942Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The most comprehensive and in-depth reconstruction of the intellectual and cultural revolution of the Haskalah movement in the 18th century. Feiner provides a unique view on the emerging republic of letters and the cultural struggle it ignited, with acute attention to the methodological and historical reevaluation of European Enlightenment research.

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      • Feiner, Shmuel. Milhemet Tarbut: Tenu’at ha-Haskalah ha-Yehudit ba-Me’ah ha-19. Jerusalem: Karmel, 2010.

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        An intriguing and inclusive study of the growing conflict between the Jewish orthodox community and the Maskilim in the 19th century, and of the way different encounters molded Jewish identity and secular rhetoric for years to come.

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        • Klausner, Joseph. Hisṭoryah Shel ha-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ha-Hadashah. 6 vols. Jerusalem: Aḥiʼasaf, 1949–1953.

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          A set of monographs of Jewish writers, describing their contribution to Hebrew literature and to the revival of the nationalistic movement.

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          • Raisin, Jacob S. The Haskalah Movement in Russia. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1913.

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            A well-detailed overview on the Haskalah movement in the Russian Empire, including important chapters on its precursors and its aftermath. Provides a unique historical and social context.

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            Reference Works

            The main reference works in English are the Encyclopedia Judaica, updated and expanded from the 1971 edition, and The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, a very good chronological evaluation of the Haskalah movement. In Hebrew, Encyclopaedia Hebraica gives an overall account, arranged by well-defined categories. The recently published New Jewish Time: Jewish Culture in a Secular Age, an Encyclopedic View gives a comprehensive overview of history, literature, language, and gender, reflecting the more recent perspectives in the field. On the genealogy of the word “Haskalah,” Shavit 1996 provides a learned viewpoint.

            • Etkes, Immanuel. “Haskalah.” In The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Edited by Gershon David Hundert, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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              A well-written work that summarizes the main historical developments in the Haskalah period, while discussing major literary works that embody ideological and social aspects. This edition is also available in a searchable online version.

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              • “haHaskalah.” In New Jewish Time: Jewish Culture in a Secular Age, an Encyclopedic View. Vol. 3. Edited by Dan Miron and Hannan Hever, 19–55. Jerusalem: Keter, 2007.

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                A superb recent synthesis of social history and Maskilic thought, with subentries on literature, music, and language.

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                • “Haskalah.” In Encyclopaedia Hebraica. Vol. 15. By Azriel Shohet, 533–561. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Encyclopaedia Publishing Company, 1962.

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                  A scholarly overview of the Haskalah epoch, outlining the main programmatic issues of the Maskilim and centering mainly on the Berlin Haskalah.

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                  • “Haskalah.” In Encyclopedia Judaica. Vol. 7. By Yehuda Slutzky, 1433–1451. Jerusalem: Keter, 2007.

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                    A comprehensive English-language reference work dedicated to the field of Jewish Studies, originally published in 1971. This edition is also available in a searchable online version. In addition to the general entry on Haskalah, the work as a whole focuses on the Berlin Haskalah and the Russian Haskalah.

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                    • Shavit, Uzi. “Hahaskala Mahi—Leveirur Musag Hahaskala Besifrut Haivrit.” In Baalot haShakhar. By Uzi Shavit, 12–36. Tel Aviv: ha-Kibuts ha-Meuhad, 1996.

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                      This chapter reviews the different definitions and functions that the term “Haskalah” had acquired in the works of prominent Maskilic writers.

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                      Primary Texts

                      Haskalah literature includes thousands of titles, mostly in Hebrew but also in Yiddish, spanning a period of over a hundred years. This section focuses on major scholarly works; the literary primary texts can be found in the section on Literature.

                      Periodicals

                      Periodicals were one of the major arenas in which the Maskilic writers sought to distribute their ideas. Moreover, they served as the main cultural arena of the Maskilim and as the foundation for the Enlightenment circles. This section includes the most significant Haskalah periodicals, namely, Ha-Me’assef (1784–1811), Kerem Hemed (1833, 1836, 1838–1843), He-Haluz (1852–1889), Ha-Karmel (1860–1880), Ha-Tsefirah (1862, 1874–1931), Ha-Shahar (1868–1885); the first Haskalah newspaper, Ha-Melitz (1860–1904); and an overview in Gilboa 1992.

                      • Gilboa, Menuhah. Leḳsiḳon ha-ʻitonut ha-ʻIvrit ba-meʼot ha-shemoneh-ʻeśreh ṿeha-teshaʻ-ʻeśreh. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1992.

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                        An excellent overview of the Jewish Enlightenment periodicals of the period.

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                        • Ha-Karmel. 1860–1880.

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                          Hebrew periodical edited and published by Samuel Joseph Fuenn and centered on literary topics and opinion articles.

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                          • Ha-Me’assef. 1784–1811.

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                            Founded by Isaac Abraham Euchel, Mendel Bresslau, and Simon and Samuel Friedländer, and published in Germany, Ha-Me’assef (The Harvester) was the first periodical of the Jewish Enlightenment and the model for other Haskalah journals to come. Its volumes included articles on Hebrew prose and poetry on science, and short accounts of actual events and biographies of eminent Hebrew scholars.

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                            • Ha-Melitz. 1860–1904.

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                              The first Hebrew newspaper in Russia, founded by Alexander Zederbaum in Odessa in 1860, was for many years associated with the poet Judah Leib Gordon, who was its coeditor. Ha-Melitz was known for voicing the more radical Maskilic views and was dedicated to new and contemporary articles. This edition is also available in a searchable online version.

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                              • Ha-Shahar. 1868–1885.

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                                Founded by Peretz Smolenskin, ha-Shahar was known for its active and critical view on Jewish life in Europe, and for integrating Haskalah ideas with early Jewish national ideology.

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                                • Ha-Tsefirah. 1862, 1874–1931.

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                                  Hebrew periodical aimed at spreading the Enlightenment’s ideas in the Jewish community, and known for the famous Hebrew writers who published their works on its pages. This edition is also available in a searchable online version.

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                                  • He-Haluz. 1852–1889.

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                                    Edited and published by Joshua Heschel Schorr, and considered the most radical of the Hebrew periodicals of the time.

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                                    • Kerem Hemed. 1833, 1836, 1838–1843.

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                                      Edited by Samuel Löb Goldenberg and Solomon Judah Löb Rapoport, Keren Hemed published articles in the form of letters in the years 1833, 1836, and 1838–1843 and is known for paving the way for the Jewish Studies field.

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                                      Major scholarly writings

                                      The texts included here are milestones in the evolution of the Haskalah movement. Mendelssohn 1983 laid its philosophical foundation. Wessely 1782 was responsible for juxtaposing European Enlightenment idea with Jewish tradition. Levinsohn 1828 was the major vehicle for spreading Haskalah ideology in eastern Europe. Lefin 1808 was one of the first Maskilic Moral books (sifrei musar); Krochmal 1851 was the major philosophical work that linked Enlightenment ideas, Jewish values, and historical theory.

                                      • Krochmal, Nachman Kohen. Moreh Nebukhe ha-Zeman. Lemberg: n.p., 1851.

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                                        A Jewish religious philosophy study, which adopts key principles from Hegel’s philosophy of history to give a unique and thorough account of the intellectual history of the Jews, with philosophical and methodological inferences.

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                                        • Lefin, Menachem Mendel. Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh. Lvov: n.p., 1808.

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                                          Heavily influenced by The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Cheshbon Ha-Nefesh revolves around moral self-improvement. Surprisingly, the book had a vast influence on the Jewish orthodox Musar movement.

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                                          • Levinsohn, Isaac Baer. Te’uddah be-Yisrael. Vilna and Horodno: n.p., 1828.

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                                            A major work that was responsible for the dispersion of Haskalah’s ideas in the Russian Empire. The book advocated education reforms, such as teaching languages and science, and called for modifications in Jewish economy.

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                                            • Mendelssohn, Moses. Jerusalem: Or on Religious Power and Judaism. Translated by Allan Arkush. Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 1983.

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                                              The most significant philosophical work of Jewish Enlightenment. It offers a philosophical inquiry on religion and freedom of thought in a political theory context, with reflections on the political conditions of the Prussian state and the civil rights of the Jewish minority.

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                                              • Wessely, Naphtali Hirz. Devrey Shalom veEmet. Berlin: n.p., 1782.

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                                                The publication of the pamphlet Devrey Shalom veEmet (Words of peace and truth) caused a stir in Jewish communities around Europe, by urging the European Jewry to adopt the Edict of Tolerance from the Austrian Emperor Joseph II. In the tract Wessely calls for a reform in Jewish education and the acquisition of European etiquette, basing his arguments on passages from the Jewish scriptures.

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                                                Autobiographies

                                                The autobiography was a prominent Maskilic genre that reflected the evolution of the Maskil. Based on the Enlightenment bildungsroman format, those autobiographies had an important role in the formation of modern Hebrew literature and were considered to offer spiritual guidance to young Maskilim. Maimon 2001 was the main paradigm of future Maskilic autobiographies, Ginzburg 2009 criticized Jewish upbringing and had a vast influence on readers and scholars, Lilienblum 1970 was considered to be the first written psychological insight on modern Jewish dilemmas, and Gottlober 1976 provides a multifaceted description of Maskilic ways of life.

                                                • Ginzburg, Mordecai Aharon. Aviezer: Viduyo Shel Maskil. Edited by Shmuel Wersses. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2009.

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                                                  Published in 1863, Aviezer is the first Hebrew autobiography. It describes the author’s childhood and adulthood and delivers harsh criticism of marital relations and the traditional education in Jewish society.

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                                                  • Gottlober, Abrham Baer. Zikhronot Umasa’ot. 2 vols. Edited by Reuven Goldberg. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1976.

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                                                    Published in 1880, Zikhronot Umasa’ot is a great resource for the cultural history of the Jews in Russia, by one of the significant figures in Haskalah.

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                                                    • Lilienblum, Moshe Leib. “Hatot Ne’urim.” In Ketavim Autobiografim. Edited by Shlomo Breiman, 201–410. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1970.

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                                                      Published between 1876 and 1879, this is one of the most influential and well-written biographies of the time, which gives an overview of the main issues that concerned the Haskalah movement in eastern Europe, by one of its more prolific and enthusiastic writers.

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                                                      • Maimon, Salomon. Salomon Maimon: an Autobiography. Translated by J. Clark Murray. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

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                                                        This eminent autobiography (1783) by the well-known Jewish German philosopher Salomon Maimon is a great source for understanding the cultural and social roots of the Jewish Enlightenment. Maimon’s memoirs encompass his childhood in eastern Europe and his ventures as a young intellectual in Berlin.

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                                                        Berlin Haskalah

                                                        In the last quarter of the 18th century the Jewish community in Berlin was the fountainhead of Jewish Enlightenment. Under the slightly more moderate and tolerant regime of Emperor Joseph II, a group of wealthy Jews, headed by David Friedländer and Daniel Itzig, set the climate for a cultural and social renaissance of the Jews. The most prominent figure of the Berlin Haskalah was the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, who acquired a symbolic stature as the new Jew who successfully merged the modern way of life with Jewish belief. Other significant figures were Isaac Abraham Euchel, the founder of the first Hebrew literary monthly, named Ha-Me’assef (cited under Periodicals); and the Hebrew poet Naphtali Hirz Wessely, who wrote the famous tractate Devrey Shalom we-Emet (Words of peace and truth) (Wessely 1782, cited under Major scholarly writings), which called for a reform in Jewish education and caused a stir in Jewish communities all around Europe. By the beginning of the 19th century, due to the process of assimilation in German culture and cases of conversion to Christianity in the Jewish elite, Berlin’s influence as the cultural and intellectual capital of the modern Jews had dwindled, and the Haskalah movement shifted to eastern Europe. Graetz 1996 offers a historical portrayal of Jewish Enlightenment in Germany, Lowenstein 1994 and Hess 2002 give different accounts of the struggles of the Jewish community, and Sorkin 1987 and Elon 2002 illustrate Jewish Enlightenment as a subculture in 18th-century Germany.

                                                        • Aptroot, Marion, Andreas Kennecke, and Christoph Schulte, eds. Isaac Euchel: Der Kulturrevolutionär der jüdischen Aufklärung. Aufklärung und Moderne 15. Hannover, Germany: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2010.

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                                                          An essential anthology, and perhaps the only in recent decades that reviews the unique and fundamental role of Isaac Euchel in Jewish cultural revolution. The articles, mostly in German, give a comprehensive perspective of Euchel’s history and thought, from his autobiographical background to his multifaceted intellectual life.

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                                                          • Elon, Amos. The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743–1933. New York: Metropolitan, 2002,

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                                                            Well-narrated and perceptive observation on Jewish subculture in Germany, from a less academic stance. The introduction and the first three chapters provide vivid treatment of the end of the 18th-century epoch. See especially chapters 2 and 3 (pp. 33–100).

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                                                            • Graetz, Michael. “The Jewish Enlightenment.” In German-Jewish History in Modern Times. Vol. 1, Tradition and Enlightenment, 1600–1780. Edited by Michael A. Meyer, 261–380. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996.

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                                                              Great overview of the Jewish Enlightenment period, which covers historical and cultural aspects in the formation of the Haskalah movement in Germany.

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                                                              • Hess, Jonathan M. Germans, Jews, and the Claims of Modernity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

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                                                                A critical examination of the secular anti-Semitism in 18th-century Germany, and its effect on the Jewish vision of modernity, political reform, and emancipation.

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                                                                • Lowenstein, Steven M. The Berlin Jewish Community: Enlightenment, Family and Crisis, 1770–1830. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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                                                                  Offers a comprehensive account of the events leading to the crisis of Berlin’s Jewish community in the late 18th century, and its aftermath in the early 19th century. Using statistical analysis and a wide variety of documents, Lowenstein focuses on the social and economic aspects of everyday life in the first modern Jewish community.

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                                                                  • Pelli, Moshe. Dor ha-Measfim be-Shahar ha-Haskalah. Bnei Brak, Israel: ha-Kibuts ha-meuhad, 2001.

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                                                                    An important and well-documented research on the first Hebrew periodical Ha-Me’assef (The Harvester) (cited under Periodicals).

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                                                                    • Sorkin, David. The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780–1840. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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                                                                      A study of the formation of German-Jewish subculture as a homogenous bourgeois group, and its linkage to the ideology of the Haskalah movement.

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                                                                      Moses Mendelssohn

                                                                      A German-Jewish philosopher, considered by many as the founder of the Jewish Enlightenment and as an example of the modern Jew, integrating the advocacy for equality and liberty in accordance with reason without losing his Jewish identity and heritage. Feiner 2010 and Altmann 1973 are more factual biographies by nature and illustrate the historical background of his intellectual achievements, while Arkush 1994, Sorkin 1996, and Freudenthal 2012 discuss the juxtapositions between Mendelsshon’s Jewishness and his philosophy.

                                                                      • Altmann, Alexander. Moses Mendelssohn: A Biographical Study. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1973.

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                                                                        A monumental study of Mendelssohn’s life, revealing the complexity of the European intellectual scene, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, with its dramatic influence on Mendelssohn’s thought and beliefs.

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                                                                        • Arkush, Allan. Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

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                                                                          Analysis of Mendelssohn’s philosophical thought, its discrepancies with Jewish religion, and its revision for consistency with Enlightenment principles.

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                                                                          • Feiner, Shmuel. Moses Mendelssohn: Sage of Modernity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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                                                                            A remarkably lucid and illuminating biography, notable for interweaving Mendelssohn’s critical thinking with the dilemmas inherent in the Jewish experience of modernity.

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                                                                            • Freudenthal, Gideon. No Religion without Idolatry: Mendelssohn’s Jewish Enlightenment. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012.

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                                                                              A provocative account of Mendelssohn’s philosophy of religion and his philosophical defense of Judaism, which enables a contemporary and illuminating discussion on the way that Enlightenment redefined and reshaped religious life and thought.

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                                                                              • Sorkin, David. Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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                                                                                A portrait of Moses Mendelssohn’s mythical image, refuting his status as a Jewish Enlightenment philosopher per se while situating him in a historical context as a religious thinker.

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                                                                                Galicia, Poland, and Eastern Europe

                                                                                In the early 18th century a growing and enthusiastic society of the Haskalah had been established in Galicia. The migration of prominent Maskilim from Berlin, and the new economic and political opportunities that emerged after the division of Poland and the formation of the Galicia region under Austria’s more liberal rule, enabled the evolution of an intellectual milieu. The best known among these were Yehudah Leib Mieses, Yosef Perl, Yitsḥak Erter, Me’ir Letteris, Nachman Krochmal, and Shelomoh Yehudah Rapoport. The Galician Haskalah is well known for its vigorous opposition to the spread of Hasidism and its contribution to neo-Hebrew literature, especially to the satiric genre. From the early 19th century, Haskalah ideas were spread through the territories of the Russian Empire and attracted young Torah students and wealthy merchants. Later, in the mid-19th century and onwards, the scattered groups of Maskilim that received the support of the Russian government had established well-organized intellectual and literary circles, which produced literary criticism, modern periodicals, novels, and scholarly studies. Sinkoff 2004 and Zalkin 2001 provide a historical analysis of the Haskalah movement in Poland and Galicia; Lederhendler 1989, Zipperstein 1985, and Zalkin 2000 offer different perspectives on Jewish Enlightenment in the Russian Empire; and Bartal 2005 examines Haskalah ideology in eastern Europe in a political and historical context.

                                                                                • Bartal, Yisrael. “Hasidim, Mitnagdim and Maskilim.” In The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772–1881. By Israel Bartal and Chaya Naor, 47–57. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

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                                                                                  A brilliant study exploring the role of the modern state in determining the different Jewish communities in the modern era. Bartal explains how the shifting political landscape in 18th- and 19th-century Europe transformed and empowered the Maskilic ideological vision and its cultural manifestations.

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                                                                                  • Lederhendler, Eli. “A Dual Role: Maskilim and the Russian State” and “Toward Political Reconstruction: Russian Maskilim and the Modernization of Jewish Politics” In The Road to Modern Jewish Politics: Political Tradition and Political Reconstruction in the Jewish Community of Tsarist Russia. By Eli Lederhendler, 84–110 and 111–153. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                    In these chapters Lederhendler offers an original historical inquiry into Russian Jewish Enlightenment political discourse. Lederhendler disputes the convention that the Haskalah was essentially a cultural movement, and examines its different political institutions in relation to the Jewish political tradition and its place in defining the outlines of Jewish national thought.

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                                                                                    • Sinkoff, Nancy. Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands. Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies, 2004.

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                                                                                      An excellent study on the formation of Galician Haskalah ideology within its historical and political context, and the dispute with the Hasidic movement. At the core of this book is a well-constructed discussion on how the shifting of political powers in Galicia had shaped the ideas and works of prominent Maskilim writers, like Menahem Mendel Lefin and his contemporaries.

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                                                                                      • Zalkin, Mordechai. Ba-“Alot ha-Shahar: Ha-Ha”skalah ha-Yehudit ba-Imperyah ha-Rusit ba-Me’ah ha-Tesha-`esreh. Jerusalem: Y. L. Magnes, 2000.

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                                                                                        Zalkin examines the early years of Jewish Enlightenment in the Russian Empire mostly from a socioeconomic perspective. The different chapters deal with the life of the individual Maskil, the formation of Maskilic societies, the founding of educational institutes, and the Maskilic occupations and their relations to traditional Jewish society.

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                                                                                        • Zalkin, Mordechai. “The Jewish Enlightenment in Poland—A Guideline.” In Kiyum va-Shever: Yehude Polin le-Dorotehem. Vol. 2. Edited by Yisrael Bartal and Israel Gutman, 391–413. Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar le-Toldot Yisrael, 2001.

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                                                                                          Zalkin aims to refute the convention that the Maskilic movement had not taken root in the Jewish community in Poland, and presents the transformations in education, literature, and social life that were caused by the Enlightenment.

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                                                                                          • Zipperstein, Steven. The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History, 1794–1881. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985.

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                                                                                            A fascinating research on the intriguing and fundamental role of the city Odessa in the cultural transformation of Russian Jewry. The study examines not only the thriving Jewish Haskalah intelligentsia but also the lower classes of Jewish society.

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                                                                                            Research Anthologies

                                                                                            Several anthologies offer versatile and kaleidoscopic overviews of Haskalah’s subjects. Feiner and Sorkin 2001 offers a revision of traditional viewpoints on Haskalah. Katz 1987 compares the Jewish Enlightenment modernization processes in different countries, and Etkes 1993 and Bartal and Feiner 2005 provide an array of essays on Berlin and eastern European Haskalah.

                                                                                            • Bartal, Yisrael, and Shmuel Feiner, eds. Ha-Haśkalah le-geṿaneha: ʻIyunim ḥadashim be-toldot ha-Haśkalah uve-sifrutah. Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 2005.

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                                                                                              A three-part collection of essays: on the establishment of Jewish Enlightenment in Germany, on its manifestations in other regions in Europe and in North Africa, and on its literature.

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                                                                                              • Etkes, Immanuel, ed. Ha-Dat veha-Hayim: Tenu`at ha-Haskalah ha-Yehudit be-Mizrah Eropah. Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 1993.

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                                                                                                A wide collection of essays concerning the eastern European Jewish Enlightenment. This anthology covers a wide range of topics, from historical analysis to literature discussion. At the end of the anthology one can find a selected bibliography edited by Shmuel Feiner.

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                                                                                                • Feiner, Shmuel, and David Sorkin, eds. New Perspectives on the Haskalah. London and Portland, OR: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2001.

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                                                                                                  Notable essays on Haskalah by the prominent scholars in the field (David Sorkin, Shmuel Feiner, Nancy Sinkoff, Yehuda Friedlander, Immanuel Etkes, and Shmuel Werses). They trace the complexity of the Haskalah, centering on the polyphony, equivocality, and dissonances rooted in the Jewish Enlightenment experience.

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                                                                                                  • Katz, Jacob, ed. Toward Modernity: The European Jewish Model. New Brunswick, NJ, and Oxford: Transaction, 1987.

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                                                                                                    A collection of many important essays on Haskalah, providing different perspectives on the process of Jewish modernization. The works by Todd M. Endelman, Joseph Michman, Michael Graetz, Michael Silber, Lois C. Dubin, and Hillel J. Kieval on the Haskalah in England, The Netherlands, France, Hungary, Italy, and Bohemia break the Germanocentric paradigm in Haskalah research and offer a multifaceted view on Jewish modernity.

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                                                                                                    Gender and Sexuality

                                                                                                    Although the role of women in Jewish Enlightenment was extensively debated in Maskilic writing along the theme of sexual norms, it had hardly received proper scholarly attention. In recent years several important researches have revolutionized the field and pointed out the importance of sexual and gender discourse in the Haskalah thought. Biale 1997, an innovative study, aptly demonstrated the connections between Jewish Enlightenment ideology and sexual and marital dilemmas. Feiner 1993 laid the groundwork for subsequent studies in a well-structured analysis of the Maskilic animosity towards intellectual women. Bartal 1998 draws attention to the affinities between Maskilic aspirations and gender hierarchies. Gluzman 2007 discusses the gender inversion theme in eastern European Jewish society based on S. Y. Abramovitsh’s novel Benjamin the Third. Parush 2004 examines from a sociological perspective the function and the impact of the Jewish women readers on Haskalah thought. Cohen and Feiner 2006 published the written contributions of Maskilic women, which were unknown in the Haskalah field until recently.

                                                                                                    • Bartal, Israel. “‘Potency’ and ‘Impotency’: Between Tradition and the Jewish Enlightenment.” In Eros, Erusin ve’Issurim: Miniyyut Umishpahah Bahistoryah. Edited by Israel Bartal and Isaiah Gafni, 225–237. Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 1998.

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                                                                                                      Examines the fear of impotence in Jewish Enlightenment and its effects on shaping the image of idealistic marriage and the role of women.

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                                                                                                      • Biale, David. “Eros and Enlightenment.” In Eros and the Jews: From Biblical Israel to Contemporary America. By David Biale, 149–175. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997.

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                                                                                                        In this groundbreaking work, Biale traces the interrelations between the Jewish Enlightenment ideology and the sexual norms of the period, and presents the new dilemmas that arose in this context as a reflection of the tension between modernity and tradition in Haskalah thinking.

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                                                                                                        • Cohen, Tova, and Shmuel Feiner, eds. Kol Almah Ivriyah: Kitve Nashim Maskilot ba-Meah ha-Tesha`-`esreh. Tel Aviv: ha-Kibuts ha-Me’uhad, 2006.

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                                                                                                          In this notable anthology the editors have gathered a wide collection of unknown or obscure writings of Maskilic women, including letters, essays, and literary works. The lucid introduction discusses the fear and animosity of the Haskalah movement toward women writers.

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                                                                                                          • Feiner, Shmuel. “The Modern Jewish Woman: Test Case in the Relationship between the Haskalah and Modernity.” Zion 58.4 (1993): 453–499.

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                                                                                                            Overview concerning the attitudes of Maskilic writers toward the modern women, and whether it is proper for them to acquire intellectual skills.

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                                                                                                            • Gluzman, Michael. “Tsarot Shel Migdar.” In Ha-Guf ha-Ziyoni: Leumiyut, Migdar u-Miniyut be-Sifrut ha-Ivrit ha-Hadashah. By Michael Gluzman, 96–135. Tel Aviv: ha-Kibuts ha-Me’uhad 2007.

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                                                                                                              Focused on the Jewish body as a symbol of sexual pathology, this chapter examines the major images of masculinity in Haskalah discourse.

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                                                                                                              • Parush, Iris. Reading Jewish Women: Marginality and Modernization in Nineteenth-Century Eastern European Jewish Society. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                In this in-depth methodological study, Parush describes how the exclusion of Jewish women from traditional education enabled them to be relatively free in seeking secular knowledge.

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                                                                                                                Ideological Struggles

                                                                                                                The Haskalah excited opposition from a number of quarters. The Maskilics’ criticism of rabbinical authorities, along with the demand for modernizing Jewish religion and their satirical attacks on Hasidism, branding their opponents as primitive and ignorant, resulted in bitter battles. Mahler 1985 and Wodzinski 2005 discuss the socioeconomic background of the Hasidic-Maskilic conflict, while Kazanelson 1954 centers on the clash between the orthodox community and notable Maskilim. Shohet 1975 examines the Crown Rabbinate institution in Russia as a ground for conflicts between Haskalah devotees and orthodox authorities. Meir 2013 analyzes the image of Hasidim in the work of Yosef Perl.

                                                                                                                • Kazanelson, Gidon. ha-Milhamah ha-Sifrutit Ben ha-Haredim veha-Maskilim: Perakim be-Toldot ha-Sifrut ha-`Ivrit be-Rusyah bi-Shenot ha-Shishim veha-Shiv`im. Tel Aviv: Devir, 1954.

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                                                                                                                  The conflicts between rabbinical authorities and Maskilic figures during the 1860s and the 1870s in Russia, and their manifestations in Hebrew literature.

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                                                                                                                  • Mahler, Raphael. Hasidism and the Jewish Enlightenment: Their Confrontation in Galicia and Poland in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1985.

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                                                                                                                    A methodological and theoretical study of the clashes between Hasidism and the Haskalah movement analyzing their contrasting socioeconomic values. The first part of the book focuses on the Galician Hasidism and their Maskilic adversaries, while the second part centers on the reasons for Maskilic scarcity in Poland.

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                                                                                                                    • Meir, Jonathan. Ḥasidut medumah: ʻIyunim bi-khetavaṿ ha-saṭiriyim shel Yosef Perl. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2013.

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                                                                                                                      The most thorough work on the writings of Yosef Perl, which represent the complicated relations between Hasidism and Haskalah in the early 19th century.

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                                                                                                                      • Shohet, Azriel. Mosad “ha-Rabanut mi-taam” be-rusyah: Parshah be-maavak ha-tarbut ben haredim le-ben maskilim. Haifa, Israel: University of Haifa, 1975.

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                                                                                                                        An important research on the dispute between Jewish Enlightenment followers and orthodox Jewry over the subject of the Crown Rabbinate in the Russian Empire.

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                                                                                                                        • Wodzinski, Marcin. Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of Poland: A History of Conflict. Translated by Sarah Cozens. Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2005.

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                                                                                                                          A recent analysis based on in-depth research in Polish archives that allowed the author to recover lost voices of the Polish Haskalah. Distinguished by an emphasis on the local contexts of the conflict, and offers a revision of the role of Polish Haskalah in Jewish history.

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                                                                                                                          Literature

                                                                                                                          The Jewish Enlightenment literature was the heart of the Haskalah movement. The written work of art was considered as the perfect medium for mending the social, moral, and religious Jewish traditional life, since it is able to conjoin the Enlightenment culture with Jewish tradition.

                                                                                                                          Poetry, Satire, and Novels

                                                                                                                          The popular genres in the early period of Haskalah were poetry, created in biblical grammar and vocabulary and aimed at reviving the grandeur of the Jewish past; and satire, which was considered an efficient tool for criticizing the maladies of Jewish society. In the mid-19th century the novel had been gradually established as the most popular form of the Jewish Enlightenment literature. Wessely 1789–1829, Lebensohn 1986, and Gordon 1956 are by the leading poets of their time; Perl 1997 and Erter 1996 are by the prominent satirists; and Mapu 2006, Smolenskin 1969, and Braudes 1974 are by the major Hebrew novelists.

                                                                                                                          • Braudes, Reuven Asher. Hadat vehaHaim. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1974.

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                                                                                                                            Published in 1875–1876, the novel Hadat vehaHaim (Religion and life) reflects the tension between the orthodox community and the aspirations of young Maskilic intellectuals.

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                                                                                                                            • Erter, Isaac. Ha-Tsofeh le-Vet Yisra’el: Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1996.

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                                                                                                                              A collection of satires criticizing the narrow-minded Jewish way of life and ridiculing Hasidic beliefs and rabbinical misuse of power. Erter established the image of the modern Hebrew author as the guardian of Jewish society.

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                                                                                                                              • Gordon, Judah Leib. Kol Kitve Yehudah Leb Gordon. Vol. 1. Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1956.

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                                                                                                                                This is the complete poetry collection of the leading Hebrew poet of his time. The collection includes his famous satirical poems, which denounce rabbinical authority and the provinciality of Jewish life.

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                                                                                                                                • Lebensohn, Abraham Dov. Shire Sefat Kodesh. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                  Shire Sefat Kodesh (Poems of sacred language) by Abraham Dov Lebensohn (known as Adam Hacohen) appeared in three volumes between 1842 and 1870. This selection from the works of the most prominent poet of his time reflects the values of the moderate eastern European Haskalah.

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                                                                                                                                  • Mapu, Abraham. The Love of Zion & Other Writings. Translated by Joseph Marymount. New Milford, CT: Toby, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                    Published in 1853, Mapu’s The Love of Zion (Ahavt Tsion) is considered the first Hebrew novel. Set in biblical time of the Kingdom of Judah and telling the stories of two young lovers, the novel had gained enormous popularity in Jewish society. This edition includes translated extracts from other novels by Mapu, The Guilt of Samaria and The Hypocrite.

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                                                                                                                                    • Perl, Joseph. Joseph Perl’s Revealer of Secrets. Translated by Dov Taylor. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                      Megalleh Temirim (Revealer of secrets) is the most famous satire directed at the Ḥasidism. Written as an epistolary novel, it established the satire genre as the most dominant form of the Haskalah literature.

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                                                                                                                                      • Smolenskin, Peretz. Kevurat Hamor. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                        Kevurat Hamor (A donkey burial) was written by one of the most dominant figures of the late Jewish Enlightenment. The novel is a fine example of the harsh criticism of the orthodox Jewish community.

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                                                                                                                                        • Wessely, Naphtali Hirz. Shire Tif’eret. Berlin and Prague: n.p., 1789–1829.

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                                                                                                                                          A long epic poem recounting the exodus from Egypt. Despite its pedagogic objectives, the poem was considered by Wessely’s contemporaries as the paradigm of fine poetry.

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                                                                                                                                          Yiddish

                                                                                                                                          The Jewish Enlightenment movement had usually considered Yiddish as a jargon not suitable for philosophical or literary use. The animosity toward Yiddish had consolidated the Hebrew character of the Jewish Enlightenment, even though many Hebrew writers had written and published in Yiddish. From the mid-19th century the Haskalah literature in Yiddish had gradually begun to take root in Jewish culture through works like Dick 2009 and Aksenfeld 1989. Abramovitsh 1996 revolutionized the attitude toward Yiddish when the author published novels that were received as complex and rich works of art. The landmark anthology Berkowitz and Dauber 2006 offers an exclusive reading to the less known Jewish Enlightenment drama.

                                                                                                                                          • Abramovitsh, Shalom Yaacov. Tales of Mendele the Book Peddler: Fishke the Lame and Benjamin the Third. Translated by Ted Gorelick and Hillel Halkin. New York: Schocken, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                            Shalom Yaacov Abramovitsh (known as Mendele Mocher Sforim) has a unique place in Jewish culture as the forefather of both modern Yiddish literature and modern Hebrew literature. These two novellas, translated from Yiddish, depict small-town Jewish life in 19th-century Russia and break the norms of Haskalah literature in their themes and stylistic form.

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                                                                                                                                            • Aksenfeld, Israel. “The Headband.” In The Shtetl: A Creative Anthology of Jewish Life in Eastern Europe. Translated by Joachim Neugroschek, 49–172. New York: Overlook, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                              Published in 1862, “The Headband” (Dos Shterntikhl) is considered a classic example of Yiddish Haskalah literature. The novel criticizes the bigotry of the Hasidic movement and the maladies of arranged marriages.

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                                                                                                                                              • Berkowitz, Joel, and Jeremy Dauber, eds. Landmark Yiddish Plays: A Critical Anthology. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                Includes the two significant Maskilic plays “Serkele, or, In Mourning for a Brother” by Shloyme Ettinger and “Silliness and Sanctimony” by Aaron Halle Wolfssohn and a critical introduction that places the plays in historical and political context.

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                                                                                                                                                • Dick, Isaac Meir. The Women Shopkeepers or Golde-Mine, the Abandoned Wife of Brod. Translated by Paul Azaroff and Lillian Schanfield. New York: Mellen, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                  Isaac Meir Dick was the most prolific author of Yiddish Haskalah literature. Dick published at least 200 books in several genres; his works reached a vast audience and symbolize the first appearance of modern Yiddish literature. This novella is a bilingual edition with the Yiddish original and an English translation.

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                                                                                                                                                  Literature Study

                                                                                                                                                  The scholarly study of Haskalah literature comprises hundreds of titles. This selection includes general overviews and thematic research. Zinberg 1972–1978 and Halkin 1970 offer the classic historiographic observation on Jewish Enlightenment literature. Miron 1979 discusses the intellectual history of the Jewish novel and the formation of literary criticism. Pelli 2005 reviews the different genres in early Haskalah, Werses 1990 provides a versatile study on the thematic and aesthetic aspects of the Maskilic texts, and Shavit 1996 provides multifaceted research on Haskalah poetry. Arbell 2013 and Levi 2013 examine literature as an agent of Jewish secularization.

                                                                                                                                                  • Arbell, Michal. “Writing Secularism: Resurgent Hebrew Literature and Secularization.” In Secularization in Jewish Culture. Vol. 1. Edited by Avriel Bar-Levav, Ron Margolin, and Shmuel Feiner, 345–520. Raanana, Israel: Open University, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                    In this comprehensive study Arbell examines the interdependence between Jewish secularization and the Hebrew prose of the Enlightenment and the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Halkin, Simon. Modern Hebrew Literature, from the Enlightenment to the Birth of the State of Israel; Trends and Values. New York: Schocken, 1970.

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                                                                                                                                                      A collection of lectures on Haskalah literature, describing its transformation to Zionist literature.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Levi, Lital. “Enlightenment, Modernization, and Secularization in Jewish Literature of the Arab East.” In Secularization in Jewish Culture. Vol. 1. Edited by Avriel Bar-Levav, Ron Margolin, and Shmuel Feiner, 521–549. Raanana, Israel: Open University, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                        In this groundbreaking work, Levi analyzes the secularization process of Jewish communities in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq and its manifestations in Hebrew literature of the time.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Miron, Dan. Ben Hazon le-Emet: Nitsane ha-Roman ha-Ivri veha-Yidi ba-Memah ha-Tesha-eśre. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                          The most significant study on the rise of the novel genre in Haskalah literature. Includes an in-depth analysis of novels by Abraham Mapu, S. Y. Abramovitsh, and Israel Aksenfeld.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Pelli, Moshe. In Search of Genre: Hebrew Enlightenment and Modernity. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                            Review of the major literature genres in Early Haskalah period, focused on selected examples.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Shavit, Uzi. Ba`alot ha-Shahar: Shirat ha-Haskalah, Mifgash Im ha-Moderniyut. Tel Aviv: ha-Kibuts ha-Meuhad, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                              Shavit explores the theme of modernization and secularism in Haskalah poetry and examines the adaptation of famous European literary works and the use of biblical texts in selected poems.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Shmeruk, Chone. Proḳim fun der Yidisher Liṭeraṭur-Geshikhṭe. Tel Aviv: Y.L. Peretz, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                The second half of this book contains a unique critical study of the history of Haskalah literature, its key authors, and its main themes.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Werses, Samuel. Megamot ve-Tsurot be-Sifrut ha-Haskalah. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Two books comprising many articles from one of the major scholars of Haskalah literature. The books include bibliographies, early Maskilic writings, and aesthetic and linguistic discussions.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Zinberg, Israel. A History of Jewish Literature. Vols. 9–12. Translated by B. Martin. Cleveland, OH: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1972–1978.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Written in the 1930s, Zinberg’s volumes give a great overview of Haskalah literature and its intellectual atmosphere. The most detailed and documented historiography of Hebrew Haskalah literature, which determined the canon of Haskalah literature for years to come.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Yiddish Literature Study

                                                                                                                                                                    Although Yiddish Maskilic literature only appeared in the mid-19th century many scholars had recognized its formative contribution to modern Jewish literature in Yiddish, Hebrew, German, and English. Miron 1973 is a compelling study on the origin of Yiddish literature, and Erik 1928 describes the effects of poetical patterns in old Yiddish literature on Haskalah literature. Shmeruk 1988 proposes a review of Yiddish literature.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Erik, Maks. Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur: Fun di eltste tsaytn biz der haskole-tkufe. Warsaw: Culture Lige, 1928.

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                                                                                                                                                                      This important study is the first to interlink Haskalah intellectual origins and secular values with older Yiddish literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Miron, Dan. A Traveler Disguised: A Study in the Rise of Modern Yiddish Fiction in the 19th Century. New York: Schocken, 1973.

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                                                                                                                                                                        One of the first scholarly attempts in English to reconstruct the beginning of modern Yiddish literature. Focusing on the writing of S. Y. Abramovitsh, Miron examines the image of the Yiddish language in Haskalah movement, and the historical conditions in the 19th century that influenced Jewish culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Shmeruk, Chone. Proḳim fun der Yidisher Liṭeraṭur-Geshikhṭe. Tel Aviv: Y.L. Peretz, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                          The second half contains a unique critical study of the history of Haskalah literature, its key authors, and its main themes.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Other Perspectives

                                                                                                                                                                          Several studies offer unique perspectives on the Haskalah period. Gries 2007 studies the book as a cultural institute and examines its materialistic aspects; Feiner 2002 presents a methodical analysis of the concept of history in Jewish Enlightenment thinking; Levin 1975 examines the economic ideology of Jewish Enlightenment; and Litvak 2012 argues that the Haskalah ideas were heavily influenced by European romanticism.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Feiner, Shmuel. Haskalah and History: The Emergence of a Modern Jewish Consciousness. Translated by Chaya Naor and Sondra Silverton. Portland, OR: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                            The book describes the Haskalah concept of history and its intellectual reconstruction by Maskilic writers, and discusses the relationship between the image of the Jewish Enlightenment past and the emergence of Jewish nationalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Gries, Zeev. The Book in the Jewish World, 1700–1900. Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                              A cultural and historical study which examines the Jewish cultural transformation in the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing on the materialistic and social aspects of literature and discussing readership, book dissemination, and libraries.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Levin, Mordechai. Erkhe hevrah ve-khalkalah ba-ideologya shel tekufat ha-Haskalah. Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                                                                A detailed research on the role of economic thinking in Haskalah ideology, and the Maskilic attitudes toward different professions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Litvak, Olga. Haskalah: The Romantic Movement in Judaism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  A study aiming to refute the common notion of Haskalah as a branch of the European Enlightenment movement, arguing that many of its ideas were fundamentally romantic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Stanislawski, Michael. For Whom Do I Toil? Judah Leib Gordon and the Crisis of Russian Jewry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    An important biography on the major poet and intellectual of the radical Haskalah, who reflects in his works the turmoils of the period.

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