The process of secularization, one of the sources of present-day democracy, has its radical origins in eighteenth-century Europe. Taking their inspiration from the Enlightenment, young Jewish intellectuals (the maskilim) set out to revolutionize the culture of their society, with the aim of overturning the rabbinic monopoly over education, publications and social conduct. They sought to promote political rights and religious tolerance, embraced humanism, rationalism and freedom of opinion. In turn, the end of Jewish isolation brought about a significant contribution to philosophy, science and art, and participation in the culture of modern European society.
This story is mainly based on material held in the Leopold Müller Memorial Library of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and derived from a collection assembled by Leopold Zunz, the nineteenth-century father of the 'Science of Judaism'. Shmuel Feiner and Natalie Naimark-Goldberg use these impressive literary treasures to trace the cultural revolution that took place mainly in Germany at the centre of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) in Berlin.
The volume is richly illustrated with images of eighteenth-century manuscripts, books and pamphlets, some of which are published here for the first time. It provides an excellent introduction to Haskalah and will serve as an attractive text book for courses in modern Jewish history. A list of digitized rare sources offers a valuable tool for further research.
Published in association with the Bodleian Library
104 pages 240 x 160 mm 84 colour illustrations
February 2011 SNN 0022-2097
£25.00/$45.00 paperback, inclusive of p&p