The Haskalah (Essential Lectures in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson

Moses Mendelsohn After Anton Graff [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Moses Mendelsohn After Anton Graff [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
The Haskalah was a major intellectual-political movement of the 18th and 19th centuries. Seeking political emancipation and intellectual freedom, it challenged the hegemony of the traditionalist authorities, leading to widespread assimilation on one hand but exceptionally creative solutions to modernity on the other. Part of the Essential Lectures in Jewish History series.

To view the Prezi associated with this lecture, please click here.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Haskalah (Essential Lectures in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson

  1. Wow, really informative video! I never knew the Haskalah Movement was largely connected to emancipation in Western Europe. The Haskalah Movement really caused a major stir within Jewish life at that time. A lot of the assimilation seen then, can be attributed to the movement. The emphasis of some of the scholars to change Jewish practice was one of the major problems. The Chasam Sofer spoke out against the Reform Movement in such a smart way-using the pasuk about wheat to say “anything new must be rejected.”
    -Yocheved Homnick

  2. It fascinates me how often Jews try to identify with their fatherland over their religion. With the emancipation,many of the Jews of Western Europe felt the need to accept whatever it was that would grant them emancipation and would help them fit in to the countries they lived in. In an attempt to replicate the Church, they incorporated bells into the synagogues. Unfortunately, as hard as the Jews would try they would never really fit in. I think that R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch had the right idea about “Torah Im Derech Eretz”, which basically means that one needs to follow the Torah in harmony with the land in which he resides. To me this seems like the best fit: stick to your beliefs without feeling totally isolated- Gabriella Y

  3. Haskalah is from the Hebrew Seikel, meaning wisdom. Comes from the translation of the German for Enlightenment. It was an intellectual-political movement of the 17- and 1800s. Seeking political emancipation and intellectual freedom, it challenged the hegemony of the traditionalist authorities, leading to widespread assimilation on one hand but exceptionally creative solutions to modernity on the other. It lead to the decline of the commitment to traditional Judaism. There was more emphasis on science, democracy, popular sovereignty instead.

    Haskalah was different in Western vs Eastern Europe. Moses Mendelssohn was the leader of this movement. Jews wanted to gain equal rights in Western Europe. They wanted to be accepted by the Germans. They adopted German norms, like bells in shul on Shabbat, and getting rid of Hebrew during prayer.

    East European Jews expressed their enlightenment in revolutionary terms, spreading socialism and Zionism. They were not really interested in assimilating with the Russian culture.

    Some felt the pace of change was too much too fast. The Conservative Movement started, promoting change, but led by learned rabbis, not haphazardly by the people.

    Traditional (Orthodox) Jews looked at these movements very negatively. They held to the truth of all of torah as divinely written, so keep all the mitzvot. Chatam Sofer promoted putting up more rules and fences. Rav Hirsch created ‘modern orthodoxy’.

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