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Haskalah

Haskalah - (Hebrew [meaning education, gaining of intelligence] השכלה). The term "Haskalah" can be used in several senses:

1- In the narrowest sense, applies to the movement of maskilim (Hebrew: משכילים ) those who studied Hebrew texts and philology, first in Germany and later in Eastern Europe.

2-A philosophic and social movement, the Jewish enlightenment movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, that was triggered by the corresponding enlightenment movement in general European society and by liberal legislation in some countries that allowed Jews to leave the ghettos and enter the generality of European society. Some of the protagonists and adherents of this movement are also called "maskilim."

3 -More broadly still, the entire movement of European Jews out of the ghettos and into secular European society.

This article will deal with "Haskalah" in the second meaning. The movement of "maskilim" was a sub-culture within the Haskalah movement, and the Haskalah movement itself was part of the great intellectual upheaval of the Jewish people, and indeed of Europe, in the 18th and nineteenth centuries. The Haskalah movement helped to provide an intellectual framework for a part of that great upheaval.  

Principles of Haskalah

The principle features and goals of the Haskalah movement were:

Rationalization and modernization of Jewish belief and ritual, including foundation of Reform Judaism.

Adaptation of the Jewish communal culture and religion to life in secular society, including reform of the strict rabbinical control over the Jewish community.

Modernization of Jewish education to allow study of non-religious subjects and prepare Jews for life in modern society.

Quest  for integration into surrounding European society.

Adaptation of Hebrew in place of Yiddish as a secular language and a limited rebirth of Hebrew literature.

 

The Haskalah was catalyzed by the emancipation of the Jews and European enlightenment. It promoted study of modern subjects fand Hebrew rather than the Talmud, the adoption of local languages in place of Yiddish, with study of Hebrew as a secular tongue, opposition to fanaticism, superstition, and Hasidism and it championed, without great success the adoption by Jews of agriculture and handicrafts.  The Haskalah movement spread through most of Europe, including Eastern Europe, even though in some countries there was no corresponding liberalization of laws restricting liberties of Jews. The major centers of the Haskalah were Germany, Galicia, Bohemia (Czechoslovakia in the Austrian Empire).  and Russia. In each venue, the Haskalah followed a different course.

In Jewish orthodox and ultraorthodox circles, "Haskalah" is often identified with "assimilation" and "assimilation" is identified with apostasy, "Hellenization" and being "lost to the Jewish people." Consequently, it is asserted that Haskalah consumed itself and that all the intellectual descendants of the Haskalah movement, like the biological descendants of Moses Mendelsohn who converted to Christianity, were lost to Judaism. This approach misses the entire point and significance of the Haskalah movement. The term "assimilation" was also applied to adoption of western dress, the study of secular subjects and the entry of Jews into secular occupations such as engineering and agriculture. The whole intellectual point of the Haskalah movement was that there was nothing particularly "Jewish" about the adoption of the dress of 16th century Polish nobleman, the lore and superstitions that had been absorbed into Judaism from the ignorant night of the dark ages, or the refusal to engage in productive occupations. Ancient Jews did not spend all their lives in the study of the Talmud to the exclusion of any worthwhile pursuits, nor were numerology, mysticism or the cure of illnesses by shamanry a part of the ancient Jewish tradition.  The practical task of the Haskalah movement was to demonstrate that one could shed the Shtreiml (fur hat) and Kapoteh (black overcoat), the garments of ghetto Jewry, and still be Jewish. It was absurd to assert that the study of Hebrew and its use for secular purposes was apostasy, since that would have made an apostate of Moses and David. The rabbinical opposition to the Haskalah, as later rabbinical Anti-Zionism was not really based on theological considerations. It was mostly about protecting the power, prestige and privileges of the rabbinical and Talmudic studies establishment.  It was much more about "who would decide" as about what would be decided.

The Haskalah occurred and was the result of profound changes in European society - the enlightenment, the emancipation of the Jews, the Napoleonic wars, the industrial and scientific revolutions. It is often impossible to separate out specific phenomena and to determine that this or that change was the direct result of the Haskalah. The Haskalah was an organized movement with definite leaders and media organs. On the other hand, to an extent, Haskalah was simply the Hebrew name for the changes that were occurring in society, applied to those changes that occurred in Jewish society. Jews strayed from orthodox religion in this period, but so did non-Jews. Women took their place in Jewish political, social and intellectual life, but women were also taking their place in general European political, social and intellectual life.  

In one sense, Haskalah had a brief and brilliant existence that culminated toward the end of the 19th century. That is the conventional wisdom to be found in many summaries. In a larger sense, Haskalah triumphed decisively and permanently over rabbinical Judaism, making possible all of the intellectual achievements of Jews in the twentieth century as well as fathering the revival of Hebrew, the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. Jewish chemists like Chaim Weizmann and Jewish physicists like Einstein, Albert would be difficult to imagine without the Haskalah. To a lesser or greater extent, every self-identifying Jew alive today, Zionist, Socialist, Assimilations or plain ordinary Jew, in Israel and more especially in the USA and Europe, who is not a member of a fanatic sect like the Neturei Karta is an intellectual product of the Haskalah and of the different trends it set in motion. It is fair to say that at least in the West, without the Haskalah there would be no secular Jews at all and no Zionism, no religious reform and no religious Zionists and certainly no Reform Jewish movement. Those who did not want to follow the path of the traditional Jews, now called "ultraorthodox," would have had no way to express their Jewish identity whatever, and would have assimilated. This conclusion is obscured by the ambivalent attitude of orthodox Jews to the Haskalah, resulting in part from the fact that it seemed to lead to a great movement of total assimilation, especially in Germany and Austria. 

The roots of Haskalah

Though the Haskalah is often labeled as a movement of the end of the 18th century, the beginnings of Haskalah can probably be traced to the 17th century and even before.

The validity of the rational approach to Jewish belief and challenges to the Jewish Diaspora establishment can be traced back to the Maimonidean controversy. Rabbi Moses Maimonides (Rambam) challenged "traditional" Jewish beliefs such as bodily reincarnation, worship of "saints" and other aberrations that had been imported into Judaism and had been considered, in fact, heretical at one time. More important perhaps, Maimonides challenged the claim of the geonim, the Talmudic scholars, on the pocketbooks of the Jews and insisted that Jews had no obligation to support perpetual study of the Talmud for the sake of studying alone. Maimonides had also attempted a synthesis between Greek philosophic rationalism and Jewish theology. His works were therefore subject to various banning edicts ("herem"). This controversy, in various permutations, led to burning of the works of Maimonides by the Dominicans in 1232, probably incited by anti-rationalist informers, as well as the desecration of Maimonides' tomb in Tiberias at about that time. The excesses of European anti-Semitism forced the Jews to unite for a time, but the issue of secular influence in Judaism remained controversial, and the the controversy flickered on and off throughout the history of European Jews.  

By the end of the 17th century, the pressures of modernization had forced cracks in rabbinical society. In Italy, physicians and men who had studied Christian theology, philosophy and classics, were also rabbis. In Germany, Jewish champions of secular culture had appeared by the beginnings of the 18th century, including Tobias ben Moses Cohn, author of Ma'aseh Tuviyyah and Jacob of Emden. This trend was more pronounced in the second half of the 18th century in the works of Israel Zamosc and Aaron Elias Gomperz (Maamar Hamada, 1765).

Haskalah in Germany 

The giant protagonist of the Haskalah in Germany was without doubt Moses Mendelsohn, Mendelsohn was so central and important in the Jewish Haskalah precisely because he was also accepted as a German philosopher of the Enlightenment and served as a model for enlightened thinking as promoted by Gotthold Lessing in his "Nathan the Wise." By succeeding in German society, Mendelsohn seemed to prove that the model "worked" - that it was possible to be BOTH a Jew and a modern German enlightenment philosopher and nationalist. The German Haskalah movement was the first such movement and provided the model and inspiration for those that would come after. 

European Society, Politics and Haskalah

The Haskalah was stimulated by several related trends and events in Europe. The first was the philosophical and social Enlightenment movement, which was centered on the deistic and skeptical philosophy of the encyclopedists and the attack on religion. The second was the rise of the centralized nationalist secular state, which led on the one hand to political emancipation of the Jews in some countries, but at the same time, on the other hand, to programs of more or less forced assimilation through education.

The history of the Edict of Tolerance (Toleranzpatent) of the Holy Roman (Hapsburg) Emperor Joseph II illustrates the dual nature of "emancipation" of the Jews as it was promulgated in much of Europe. The original edict of 1781 extended religious freedom to all Christian sects, but not to Jews. In 1782, the edict was extended to include Jews, on certain very restrictive conditions. Though Jews would now be allowed  to live in Vienna and Austria, and to engage in various crafts that were previously forbidden to Jews under the odious rule of Maria Theresa, they were forced to study in non-Jewish studies and to found schools for that purpose or to study in general schools. Jewish schools had to be under government supervision. Even these laws found only a reluctant acceptance in the various states of the empire, because various guilds protested against competition from Jews. This policy, which amounted in some cases to compulsory cultural genocide, was replicated in subsequent decrees of various German states, in Eastern Europe and in the Russian Tsarist regime in the 19th century. 

The French Revolution provided an additional impetus to the Haskalah movement. The progress of Napoleon spread the doctrines of enlightenment throughout Europe, and the emancipation of the Jews provided the basis for Jewish integration into European societies. Once again however, it was integration as individuals and not as a group or ethnic entity that was granted to Jews, even if they were allowed their individual liberty of conscience and culture.

What the Haskalah Negated

The Haskalah, in addition to negating ghetto dress and mannerisms, negated the Talmud, Yiddish and Messianism, all central characteristics of Jewish communal life in the European Middle Ages though not necessarily essential parts of Judaism. As such, it evoked a lot of resistance from those for whom these were important causes. Zionism was later to adopt all of these positions, and to inherit the same enmity from advocates of Talmudic and Messianic Judaism as well as "Yiddishists."

Haskalah and the Talmud

The Talmud had been the cornerstone of Jewish life and education for over a thousand years. The identification of the Talmud with Judaism and its centrality to Judaism were sealed by the persistent persecution of the Jews by Christian authorities in Europe, based on absurd notions that the purpose of the Talmud was to conceal slanders against the Christian religion and plots against Christian rule (see Jew Hate for a brief summary).  Talmudic law and Talmudic studies and glosses on the Talmud had virtually monopolized Jewish education and philosophy, to the exclusion of all other studies including the Hebrew language and the Bible itself.   The Torah, the five books of Moses, could only be approached through the Talmud. To prevent "Hellenization" edicts were passed forbidding the study of secular philosophy and any other secular learning. Talmud study became the bulwark of Jewish religious reaction, as well as an object of suspicion in the new "enlightenment" legislation.

The leaders of the German Haskalah, Moses Mendelsohn and Naphtali Herz Wessely, the pioneer of Haskalah education, did not openly challenge the sanctity and the authority of the Oral Law. However, they tried to demote the study of Talmud from its supreme position in Jewish education. There was no alternative for those who wanted introduce additional studies, because the Talmudists claimed and enforced a monopoly.  Mendelssohn,  wrote to Naphtali Herz  Homberg, a leader of the enlightenment in Galicia, stressing the importance of deeds and the study of the Bible for Judaism, without mentioning the Talmud.   Wessely stated: "We were not all created to become talmudists." David Friedlaender, another Haskalah leader, rejoiced at the decline of Yeshivot. 

The Jewish aversion to  Talmud studies that developed in the 18th century coincided with, or was catalyzed by, the decrees of the state. Edicts issued by Joseph II for the Jews of Bohemia (1781), Moravia (1782), Hungary (1783), and Galicia (1789) ordered Jews were ordered to establish "normal" schools or to send their children to the state schools; Jews were also permitted to enter secondary schools and universities. Anyone who studied Talmud before completing the school curriculum was liable to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment; marriage was prohibited without a certificate of school attendance. Similar edicts were promulgated elsewhere. The leaders of the Haskalah despised the old-style Polish teachers, the melammedim as generally ignorant,   In the Free School, and in other new schools in Berlin, Dessau, and Frankfurt on the Main, and later throughout Europe, i Hebrew and general studies were taught. A limited number of hours were usually devoted to Hebrew studies, while study of the Talmud was almost completely abandoned. 

The anti-Talmud movement spread to Eastern Europe in subsequent stages of the Halachah. Abraham Buchner, a teacher in the rabbinical seminary of Warsaw, wrote a book entitled Der Talmud in seiner Nichtigkeit ("The Talmud in its Nothingness," 1848). Joshua Heschel Schorr of Galicia believed  that although the Talmud was historically important, its legal decisions were outdated socially and spiritually and hence no longer binding.

The aversion to the Talmud and Talmudic studies was transmitted almost directly to modern Zionism, which stressed the study of the Old Testament bible

Haskalah and Yiddish

The Yiddish language developed as the lingua franca of European Ashkenazic ghetto Jews. Its base was medieval German transcribed into Hebrew letters and with an admixture of Hebrew and other languages. Ladino was a similar development among Sephardic Jews. As in the case of the laws against the Talmud, the decrees of enlightened emperors mixed modern thought and purposes with anti-Semitic superstitions. German writers had claimed that Jews deceived non-Jews by using Yiddish in business transactions. Therefore,  "enlightened"  forced Jews to write commercial documents in German and keep their books in that language. The use of Yiddish was banned.

The Haskalah adopted the anti-Yiddish movement, though it ultimately resulted in a flourishing of Yiddish culture. In Germany and in Alsace-Lorraine, wealthy Jews had begun to have their children taught German and French by private tutors as early as the close of the 17th century,  to facilitate both their business and social contacts with non-Jews. French became the language of elite Jewish circles, and the reading of general literature became widespread. This caused a consequent decline in use of Yiddish among wealthier and more educated Jews.  By the 1780s there were "the daughters of Israel, who are all able to speak the language of the gentiles with eloquence, but cannot converse in Yiddish" (Ha-Me'assef (1786), 139). By the 1790s the younger generation of the Jewish bourgeoisie of Berlin were adopting German as their spoken language. 

Mendelssohn claimed that Yiddish was a subject of scorn, ungrammatical, and a cause for moral corruption. But the reaction against Yiddish did not necessarily lead to the revival of Hebrew. Mendelsohn initiated a translation of the Torah  into German, so that Jews could become better acquainted with German.  Wessely approved wholeheartedly of the measures which Joseph II introduced against the use of Yiddish (Ha-Me'assef (1784), 178). David Friedlaender called for the removal of Yiddish as the language of instruction in the heder and Jewish schools; in his opinion the use of Yiddish was responsible for unethical conduct and corruption of religion. He translated the prayers into German, "the language spoken by the inhabitants of these regions," because the Yiddish translations "were repulsive to the reader in their style and contents" (Ha-Me'assef (1786), 139). The maskil Zalkind *Hourwitz also suggested that the Jews be prohibited from employing either Yiddish or Hebrew for bookkeeping and business contracts, not only for transactions between Jews and Christians but also between Jews themselves, in order to prevent fraud.

The conquests of the French army under Bonaparte helped to spread Haskalah, and with it, the anti-Yiddish movement. A Jewish weekly began to appear in Dutch in 1806. In 1808 a society was formed in Amsterdam for translation of the Bible and the prayer book into Dutch, and for the publication of textbooks in Hebrew and Dutch, the establishment of new schools, and the training of suitable teachers for them. King Louis Bonaparte issued a decree in February 1809, in force from Jan. 1, 1811, prohibiting the use of Yiddish in documents. Sermons in the synagogues were to be delivered in Dutch, while Dutch was to be the language of instruction for Jewish youth. The consistory of the Netherlands ordered that notices in the synagogues be published in Dutch only, and all correspondence between the communities and the consistory was to be conducted in Dutch only. In France, the maskilim encountered no difficulties in their struggle against Yiddish in favor of French. French had been widely spoken among Jews before the Haskalah period.In Hungary, the maskilim were active in substituting Hungarian for the Yiddish vernacular during the 1840s. Hungarian became the language of instruction in the Jewish schools of several communities and some preachers even began to employ this language in synagogues.

Ironically however, the legitimation of secular culture by the Haskalah ultimately produced a great cultural renaissance of Yiddish, produced in later years by authors such as Shalom Aleichem and Mendele Mocher Spharim, as well as Hebrew authors like Joseph Chaim Brenner. The Yiddish theater and Yiddish cinema that flowered for a brief time before the Holocaust drew their sources from these writings and from the secular Yiddish culture that would have been completely unthinkable without the Haskalah.

Despite their opposition to Yiddish, the Haskalah authors wrote works in this language to propagate their ideas among the masses by means of stories and works of popular science. Among them,  Isaac Meir Dick, wrote hundreds of stories which were published in Vilna and Warsaw. Israel Axenfeld and Solomon Ettinger wrote stories and plays in the Haskalah spirit. Many of their works were banned by the authorities and circulated in manuscript.

The first newspapers issued by a newer generation of more Russian-oriented maskilim  appeared in Odessa, Razsvet and Sion (in 1860/61) and Den (1869–71).  The older authors were joined by new ones, among them S.J. Abramovitsh (later Mendele Mokher Sefarim), who wrote in Hebrew and Yiddish, I.J. *Linetzky (Yiddish), L. Levanda, and G. Bogrov (Russian). Their writings produced a more advanced stage in Haskalah ideology, which found its expression in the saying of the poet Yehuda Leib Gordon: "Be a man when you go out and a Jew in your home."

Haskalah and Messianism

Messianism was one of the intellectual plagues of the Jewish Diaspora. On the one hand, the belief that all troubles would be solved by the miraculous agency of the Messiah led to Jewish helplessness and stagnation, just as the other-worldliness of the Christian Middle ages had helped to prevent progressive thinking. On the other hand, periodic crazes excited by false messiahs like Shabettai Tzvi attracted and encouraged mysticism and the idle computation of the end of days, as well, often, as putting Jews in physical danger from the authorities, who generally took a dim view of these figures.

The anti-messianic position of the Haskalah was aided by the failure of the Shabettai Tzvi  movement, but Haskalah at first sought to channel messianism rather than contradicting it directly.  Jacob Emden noted that Jonathan Eybeschuetz had preached that the main achievement of the Messianic age for Jews would be that "they would find clemency among the nations." That was a popular euphemism for elimination of persecution and attainment of a better legal and social status. In other words, the Messiah would bring about successful integration or assimilation, rather than return to the land of Israel or resurrection of the dead.

Moses Mendelssohn in principle upheld the messianic hope as an abstraction. He felt that it did not have "any influence on our civic behavior" – at least not in places where "they have treated the Jews with tolerance"; in his view the redemption would come through the Divine Will alone, though he once gave his opinion, somewhat presciently, that the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel could come about not through divine agency, but as a pedestrian event of secular politics, during a world war. Similar to Mendelsohn's view, Zalkind Hourwitz in his Apologie des Juifs (Paris, 1789) wrote that the effect of messianic faith on the actual behavior of Jews was similar to the influence of the certainty of death on human activity; "this does not prevent them… from building, sowing, and planting in every place where they are permitted to do so."  Some maskilim, according to Mordecai Schnaber, equated the coming of the Messiah with the reign of universal peace and toleration to be brought about by progress. Belief in "progress" - the god of the enlightenment, replaced mystical messianic hopes.

After emancipation was attained a further weakening of messianic faith set in. When latter-day maskilim began to combine Haskalah ideology with a nationalist Jewish attitude their anti-messianic stand became a starting point for aspirations for redemption by natural agency (see Chovevei Tzion, Zionism). Mendelssohn, however, though of the Torah as a kind of divine legislation intended for the Jewish society. He cast Judaism as a  society of theists and did not explicitly advocate separate Jewish nationalism. At that juncture in history, such a course would have been dangerous.

Haskalah and Hebrew

The Haskalah produced the beginnings of the revival of the Hebrew language and the first establishment of a Hebrew education network. It must be confessed however, that the maskilim did not make a serious effort to turn Hebrew into a modern language that could be used in literature and every day life. With some exceptions, notably in Russia, Hebrew was mostly a relic, to be studied for its value in understanding the Old Testament and other Hebrew writings on holy subjects. The task of revitalizing Hebrew was left for the generation that followed the collapse of the Haskalah movement in Russia: the Zionists, Eliezer Ben Yehuda and writers such as Chaim Nachman Bialik and Joseph Chaim Brenner.

Hebrew was of central importance to people like Jacob Emden and Jonathan Eybeschuetz. They actually hoped, it seems, to produce a revival of the language so that Jews should be able to speak fluent Hebrew. Moses Mendelssohn also considered the Hebrew language a national treasure. In his Kohelet Musar, 3 issues (1750), he called for an extension of its frontiers, on the example of other living languages. Cultivation of Hebrew was also one of the aims of the Biur, the commentary on the Pentateuch initiated by Mendelssohn.

The Haskalah scholars promoted Biblical Hebrew, ignoring the Hebrew of the Mishnah and the more or less degraded Hebrew used by contemporary rabbis.

Ha-Me'assef served as the Hebrew organ of the German Haskalah in its Hebrew aspect. It was published regularly between 1783 and 1790, with difficulties until 1797, and revived from 1809 to 1811. It was published by the Doreshei Leshon Ever ("Friends of the Hebrew Language") in Koenigsberg founded in 1783, and renamed in 1786 Shoharei ha-Tov ve-ha-Tushiyyah ve-Doreshei Leshon Ever ("Seekers of Good and Wisdom and Friends of the Hebrew Language"). Even Ha-Me'assef published articles in German; its publication ceased through extreme assimilation of the adherents of Haskalah, in particular in Germany and Austria. German attracted younger and progressive circles. The literary contribution by the so-called *Me'assefim generation was an important stage in the development of Hebrew language and literature. Hebrew became a vehicle for secular and professional scientific expression. Maskilim also contributed much to research in grammar and purity of expression.

In Eastern Europe Hebrew remained the language of Haskalah literature for a longer period, appealing to a much wider public with deeper roots in Jewish culture than in Central and Western Europe. The maskilim there further developed and enlivened Hebrew The development of Hebrew culture in the Russian Haskalah was far more significant, and ultimately formed the basis for modern Hebrew literature. It will be discussed separately.

Haskalah and General Education

The great achievement of the Haskalah was the establishment of Jewish and secular education outside the framework of rabbinical orthodoxy and the traditional Heder. This helped to ease the passage of entire generations of European Jews from the ghetto to the wider world without losing their Jewish identity completely. The primary fault of Haskalah education was that there never really enough of it. Secular Jewish schools established by the Haskalah provided education for only a few grades initially. Graduates of these schools usually entered the general education system at a young age, and were exposed to assimilationist and anti-Jewish influences. Even in Russia, there was never any attempt to form a Jewish university in Europe. Those who wanted to study chemistry or other subjects, like young Chaim Weizmann, had to go through the tsarist education system generally and then to study abroad, usually in Germany, which was the center of European learning and progress in the 19th century. In Germany the failure of the Haskalah movement to provide for advanced education soon brought about, inevitably the demise of the Haskalah. Many of the schools that were founded with so much hope eventually closed, because the Jews had totally assimilated into German society. The struggle for secular Jewish education was renewed in the Zionist movement by Achad Haam and his cultural Zionist disciples, all products of the Haskalah, and ultimately led, as a reaction, to the formation of the Mizrachi movement and the Hebrew education efforts that were more successful in Poland and, for a time, in the United States.

The Haskalah educational effort should not be misunderstood as subverting Judaism. The authorities had, in many cases, decreed that Jews must be educated in secular subjects. Without the Haskalah schools they would have had no Jewish education whatever.

The leaders of the Haskalah shared the rationalist enlightenment faith in the efficacy of a rational education. This education would be the key to Jewish acceptance in society at large.

The first school to be guided by this ideal was founded in Berlin in 1778 by Isaac Daniel Itzig and David Friedlaender. It was called the Judische Freischule ("Free School") in German and Hinnukh Ne'arim ("Youth Education" - literally "Education of young boys). It was primarily intended for children of the poor and was free for those with no means to pay.

The curriculum included study of German and French, arithmetic, geography, history, natural sciences, art, some Bible studies, and Hebrew. The school had a revolutionary effect on Jewish education. The school was successful from the beginning; only half of its 70 first pupils came from poor homes. Lazarus Ben David was made principal in 1806. He incorporated the innovation of accepting Christian students, forming the first interdenominational school. Of the 80 pupils attending the school, in 1817, 40 were educated free of charge, and 16 were Christians. However, in 1819 a Prussian government decree forbade the teaching of Christians in Jewish schools. The Freischule existed until 1825 when it was forced to close its doors. It educated about a thousand students, who became the nucleus of the German Reform Judaism movement.  

Naphtali Hirz Wessely's welcome of Joseph II's educational proposals for Jews (Divrei Shalom ve-Emet, 4 pts. (1782–85)) and his call to the Jews of Austria to establish schools on this pattern were an outcome both of the success of the Freischule as well as the fear that if Jews themselves did not take the initiative, Jewish children would be compelled to attend the state schools. In this work Wessely set out both a detailed program and a basic philosophy for Haskalah education. German Jews of the upper social strata were ready for this program, though it aroused much rabbinical opposition, influenced from outside Germany.

Many programs for Haskalah education were proposed, some drawing on the experience of Italian Jewish and Sephardi schools, whose curricula were considered near to Haskalah aims. The question of education was widely discussed in Ha-Me'assef, the Haskalah organ. Some radical maskilim demanded that German and arithmetic should be taught to begin with and Hebrew reading and writing be added at a later stage. David Friedlaender sought to introduce German as the language of instruction in all subjects and the teaching of selected chapters of the Bible of ethical value to both boys and girls. In regard to religious instruction, he also suggested that only the ethical precepts be taught. 

The influence of Haskalah and the demands of the authorities also penetrated to Orthodox circles. Rabbi Ezekiel Landau reluctantly agreed that it was necessary "to know language and writing"; although "Torah is the main thing," "one should grasp both." Rabbi David Tevele of Lissa conceded, out of lack of choice, to the emperor's request "to teach the children to speak and write the German language for an hour or two." The first "integral" schools (in which Jewish and general subjects were taught) were opened by the Orthodox in Halberstadt and Hamburg.

Haskalah revolutionized the education of girls, who had been largely kept in ignorance of Hebrew and of most learning, as they were not required.  The daughters of the wealthy elite were taught European languages and music by private tutors and played an important role in introducing European culture and Enlightenment ideas into Jewish life. The maskilim also showed concern for the education of the daughters of the poor. Schools for girls were established in the 1790s in Breslau, Dessau, Koenigsberg, and Hamburg. The curriculum generally included some Hebrew, German, the fundamentals of religion and ethics, prayers, and arithmetic; there were also schools where the writing of Yiddish, handiwork, art, and singing were taught.

Schools with curricula based on the educational ideals of Haskalah were also established in France and other Western European countries. On the example of the "integral" schools in Germany, similar schools were also founded in East European countries. In 1813 a school was founded by Josef Perl in Tarnopol (Galicia), where in addition to Bible, Mishnah, Gemara, and Hebrew grammar, the subjects of Polish, French, arithmetic, history, and geography were also taught; the language of instruction was German and there were also classes for girls. A similar school was established in Lvov in 1845. In Warsaw, three schools in which the language of instruction was Polish were established byJacob *Tugendhold in 1819; two schools for girls were also established here.

The new schools, required trained teachers. the Freishcule had originated employed some Christian staff.  Isaac The first teachers' training seminary was opened in Kassel in 1810 by the consistory of the kingdom of Westphalia, followed by others through the first half of the 19th century. A seminary for teachers and rabbis was opened in Amsterdam in 1836 and a seminary for teachers in Budapest in 1857.

As noted, secondary schools did not develop practically anywhere in Germany . Only the Philanthropin school at Frankfurt extended its curriculum in 1813 to include a secondary science-orientated section providing six years' studies after the four years of elementary classes. Some private institutions of a commercial-science orientation were established in Berlin. Those who went on to secondary studies generally attended non-Jewish institutions.

Haskalah and Reform Judaism

The Haskalah movement enabled the creation of the Reform movement in the Jewish religion, which was led by Maskilim. The idea of religious reform was conceived by David Friedlaender in 1799. Through his influence the first steps in reform were taken by Israel Jacobson, in  Westphalia. Friedlaender himself began to introduce reform in religion in Berlin after Prussian Jews were  emancipated in 1812. Friedlaender did not just "modernize" ritual. He extirpated all traces of Jewish nationalism and culture from religious services. He called for exclusion from the prayer book of all prayers for the return to Zion and the dirges on the destruction of the Temple, and demanded that prayers be recited in German. The patrons of reform synagogues were the graduates of the new schools created by the Haskalah movement.

Haskalah and Jewish Historiography

Modernistic interest in Jewish history began in the generation of Mendelssohn and Wessely. In Ha-Me'assef, a special section was set aside for "biographies of eminent Jewish personalities" in which popular articles were written on Maimonides, Don Isaac Abrabanel, Moses Raphael de Aguilar, Isaac Orobio de Castro, and others. These articles included early efforts were made to shed light on ancient sources. The pHa-Me'assef also published biographies of "living Jewish scholars" - that is, Haskalah  Isaac Euchel wrote a biography of Mendelssohn, and David Friedrichsfeld published a biography of Wessely, both were published after the deaths of their subjects.  Biographies of eminent Jewish personalities were also published in Shulamit.

Serious research into Jewish history on a wide scale was taken up by Maskilim when the poet and scholar Solomon Loewisohn published his work Vorlesungen ueber die neuere Geschichte der Juden (Lectures on the modern history of the Jews) in Vienna in 1820. That was the first Haskalah oriented attempt to present an overview of Jewish history in the Diaspora. The Haskalah created an intellectual tradition of trying to understand Jewish history and the Diaspora as the result of natural historical processes rather than divine will and punishment for sins, providing a basis for the Zionist analysis that was to follow, as well as for Marxist and related doctrines.

Haskalah in Russia

It was in Russia, and not in Germany, that the Haskalah was to come closest to its original goal - of producing a modern Jewish society that remained Jewish. However, in Russia, the Haskalah had to overcome numerous obstacles, chief among them being the obstinacy of the reactionary rabbis, the general poverty and ignorance of the masses of Jews, and the unrelenting persecution of the government, which supervised every aspect of life to the extent possible.

The rise of the modern era, paradoxically, saw the triumph in Russia and central Europe of a reactionary anti-intellectual movement in Judaism, the Hassidic movement. Hassidism arose out of somewhat justifiable reaction of poorer Jews to the intellectual elitism to the great centers of learning that had formed in in the north, in Galicia. It originated as a small persecuted movement in Southern Ukraine and spread to encompass the Jews of Poland, Russia proper, and the Ukraine. From being a movement of liberalization, Hassidism soon turned to fanatic enforcement of religious doctrine under the autocratic thumbs of hereditary rabbis, to xenophobia and an obsession with labeling any intellectual or rational thought as heresy. Hassidic Jews were forbidden from reading "foreign" material. Women were strictly segregated from men in public. Archaic dress codes were deliberately adapted to ensure that followers could not possibly mingle in normal society. The opponents of Hassidic Jewry, increasingly a minority, likewise turned from rationality and intellectual openness to rigidity. Thus, at the particular period when it should have been most receptive to change and progressive ideas, Judaism had turned into a force for reaction and stagnation. The ideas of the Haskalah were bound to clash violently with this brand of Judaism.  

The saving grace of Tsarism was that it was so hopelessly inefficient, that even its police state was inefficient. Bribes and "finagles" could, to a limited extent, frustrate the intentions of repressive legislation and allow Jews and others to "get along," The Haskalah in Russia was able to attain far greater achievements than Haskalah in Germany in part because of the larger masses of Jews that lived in Russia, in part because the repressive nature of Tsarist society and its all-pervasive racism prevented Jews from escaping their Jewishness and assimilating into Russian society, and in part because in Russia, unlike Germany, Jews often represented the intellectual elite, owing to high rates of literacy and educational achievement. The Jew in Berlin and Vienna might be covetous of the sparkling intellectual society of the gentiles. The Jews stuck in provincial backwater towns of Poland, the Ukraine and Bessarabia often were the intellectual elite and the harbingers of progress and change. 

Haskalah in Russia had a false dawn about the time of the German Haskala and was reborn subsequently. It was originally introduced into Russia from Germany, in part because of Germany Jewish contact, and in part because Germany, including its Eastern provinces, had become the source of European modernism and intellectual movements for Russia. 

By the 1780s some Jews in towns of Lithuania and Poland were subscribers to the Biur of Moses Mendelssohn and Ha-Me'assef of the German maskilim. The earliest maskilim in Eastern Europe were Israel Zamosc, Solomon Dubno, Judah Hurwitz, Judah Loeb Margolioth, Baruch Schick, and Mendel Lefin. They maintained direct relations with the maskilim of Berlin, but when spreading Haskalah in their own environment they based themselves formally on the views of Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna, and regarded themselves as his disciples. Baruch Schick, who published several works on mathematics and astronomy, wrote in his introduction to his translation of Euclid (Amsterdam, 1780) that the Gaon had stated that "in proportion to a man's ignorance of the other sciences, he will be ignorant of one hundred measures of the science of the Torah."

Solomon Dubno contributed to the Biur, Moses Mendelssohn's commentary on the Bible. Phinehas Hurwitz published the Sefer ha-Berit in 1797, a type of encyclopedia of various sciences, combining ethical observations and research. Manasheh ben Joseph of Ilya, who was persecuted by the orthodox zealots for his free ideas, also belonged to this circle. As customary at this time, all these authors sought and obtained the written approval of outstanding rabbis for their works. It was not possible to distribute any literature or ideas for long without this this approval. This guaranteed the relatively tame nature of the Russian Haskalah, and it also proved the Achilles heel of the early Russian Haskalah.

At the end of the 18th century. the wealthy maskil Joshua Zeitlin established a center for maskilim and traditional Torah scholars on his estate near Shklov. In his large library they could  dedicate themselves to their studies and religious perfection. Included in this group were Baruch Schick and Mendel Lefin of Satanov. These maskilim made use of their relations with the Russian authorities as merchants, purveyors, and physicians, and submitted proposals to the administration for the improvement of the situation of the Jews by admitting them to various crafts, by the encouragement of agricultural settlement, and by the opening of modern schools for the Jews (memoranda of Jacob Hirsch of Mogilev, 1783; of Nathan Note Notkin of Shklov, 1797; of the physician Jacob Elijah Frank of Kreslavka (Kraslava), 1800).

The maskilim also concerned themselves with spreading education among the masses during this period. While having reservations against the use of Yiddish, they wrote works in that language for the education of the people. The physician Moses Markuse published Sefer Refu'ot in Poritsk, Volhynia, in 1790, a Hebrew book in which he offered both medical advice and  guidance on the education of children. In 1817 the merchan tChaim Haykl Hurwitz of Uman published his Tsofnas Paneach, an adaptation of the work of J. Campe, Die Entdeckung von Amerika.

A small group of maskilim organized themselves in the new Jewish community established in St. Petersburg at the close of the 18th century. Their outlook was expressed in the Russian pamphlet Vopl docheri iudeyskoy (1802), published in a Hebrew version, Kol Shavat Bat Yehudah, in Shklov a year later. Written when debate on the Jewish problem  was taking place within the Russian government, it took up the defense of the Jewish people, and included a plea that kindness and mercy be shown to the Jews. Unfortunately, not long thereafter, the author of the pamphlet, Yehudah Leib Nevakhovich, converted to Christianity, as did his patron, the merchant Abraham Peretz, who was the son-in-law of Nathan Note Notkin. These conversions, and the epidemic of conversions among the maskilim of Germany identified the Haskalah with assimilation and apostasy and turned the mass of Russian Jews, as well as the rabbinical authorities, against the Haskalah. 

During the 1820s the Haskalah movement had a fresh beginning in Lithuania and Southern Russia, catalyzed by emigrants from Galicia. During this period the Haskalah gained a hold in Vilna, one of the centers of commerce with Western Europe. The leaders of the Haskalah dressed in German style and insisted on speaking pure German among themselves instead of Yiddish, They were referred to by the masses as "Deytshen" or "Berliners."

One of their main aims was to reform Jewish education - to establish modern Jewish schools in which the pupils would be taught general subjects and Jewish studies in the German language. It did not occur to them, evidently, that Jews in Russia should study in Russian.  In 1822, Hirsch Hurwitz founded a school in Uman based on the "Mendelssohnian system." Another Haskalah Jewish school was founded in Odessa under the direction of Bezalel Stern in 1826. Similar schools were subsequently founded in Riga, Kishinev, and Vilna. Soon after, the program of the Haskalah in Russia was described by Isaac Dov (Baer) Levinsohn of Kremenetz in his Te'udah be-Yisrael (Vilna, 1828) and Beit Yehudah (ibid., 1839). The basics were secular Jewish education at the elementary school level as well as establishment of high schools and importantly, the promotion of productive labor, especially agriculture, for Jews. Of course, the program urged the abandonment of Yiddish for German or Russian.

The leaders of the Haskalah tried to organize their efforts under the difficult conditions that usually obtained in Russia, and were particularly repressive in the reign of Czar Nicholas I. Small groups of maskilim were established in many towns, though national groups were impossible. Harassed by censorship, they nonetheless managed to publish their literary and ideological output.

The birth of modern Hebrew literature - The Russian Haskalah was able, despite the enormous difficulties,  to create a modern Hebrew literature and literary life. Mordecai Aaron Guenzburg wrote stories based on Jewish, general, and Russian history, adapted from non-Jewish sources or collected from other authors in this period. He was followed by  Kalman Schulmann. A number of poets wrote on secular subjects in lyrical Hebrew, many expressing the ideas of Haskalah. The leading Haskalah poet at this time was Judah Leib Gordon, Other poets included Abraham Dov Lebensohn (pen name: Adam ha-Kohen), whose first collection of poems, Shirei Sefat Kodesh, was published in Leipzig in 1842, his son Micah Joseph Lebensohn (pen name: Mikhal), and the leading Haskalah poet, Yehudah Leib Gordon.

Abraham Mapu created the Hebrew novel, and his Ahavat Ziyyon (Vilna, 1853) has become a landmark in the history of Hebrew literature.

Education - The Haskalah's educational program coincided with the Russian government's program to establish a network of governmental Jewish schools in which the language of instruction would be German and later Russian. During the early 1840s the government entrusted Max Lilienthal, the principal of the Jewish school of Riga, with the execution of this program. He was assisted by the local maskilim in every town. During the 1840s and 1850s many such schools were founded in the towns of the Pale of Settlement. Their Jewish teachers were drawn from maskilim circles who were granted the status of government functionaries. In Vilna and Zhitomir, government rabbinical seminaries were established. Their students were exempted from military service and were trained with the aim of becoming the future teachers and rabbis of the Jewish communities. In these schools and seminaries, which were financed by special taxes imposed on the masses, a new generation of maskilim was educated. They received their education in Russian, and their ties with the Hebrew language and Jewish tradition were flimsy.

Haskalah received considerable stimulus through economic changes, particularly when a wide class of Jews engaged in liquor contracting emerged. As a result of their contracts with government officials, they and their employees required  knowledge of Russian, arithmetic, and technical fields. This generated thousands of families who were economically and socially independent of the Jewish community.  They dressed as non-Jews, neglected religious  observance and shaved their beards, The new generation of "maskilim" were no longer rooted in Jewish tradition.

The important reforms at the start of the reign of Alexander II and the suppression of the Polish uprising in 1863 gave a strong impetus to the spread of Haskalah among Jewish youth. The Jewish press, whose founders, journalists, and publishers were mostly maskilim, played a decisive role in this development. Among newspapers outstanding for their struggle in favor of Haskalah were the Hebrew Ha-Meliz  and the Yiddish Kol Mevasser (1862).

This press called for an alliance between the Jewish maskilim and the Russian government in order to fight "those in darkness" from within, especially the Hasidim and their ẓTzaddikim, and to support the governmental Russification policy throughout the Pale of Settlement. During the 1860s the institution of kazyonny ravvin ("government-appointed rabbi") was introduced. Its candidates were drawn from the ranks of the maskilim who had been educated in the Russian-Jewish schools.

In 1863 the Hevrat Mefizei ha-Haskalah (Society for the dissemination of the Haskalah) was founded in St. Petersburg. This society came to the assistance of maskilim in the provincial towns, particularly high-school students, and encouraged the publication of Haskalah literature in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian.

Most of the maskilim believed in the inevitability of social progress. They assumed that Russia, like  the other European states, was about to declare the emancipation of the Jews. The rights which had been granted to some groups of Jews in the 1860s, such as the more successful merchants, intellectuals,  craftsmen , and members of the medical profession incluidng physicians, pharmacists, male nurses, midwives, etc. seemed to point in that direction. The enactment of general military draft in 1874, which included advantages for those with a Russian education, prompted many parents to send their children to the Russian schools. While in 1870 only 2,045 Jewish children studied in Russian secondary schools, by 1880 their numbers had increased to 8,000.

During this period there were two divergent trends among the maskilim. One called for a rapid association with the Russian nation, even to the point of assimilation. Hebrew and Yiddsih were  regarded as temporary expedients for spreading Haskalah among the backward masses. At most, adherents to this trend recognized the need for the promotion of Wissenschaft  des Judentums ("Science of Jewry") in the Russian language, as had been done in the West.

Opposed to the optimists there was a small group of nationalists who called for the fostering of the Hebrew language and loyalty to Jewish nationalism. Their newspaper was  Ha-Shahar (1868–84), published by Peretz  Smolenskin in Vienna but particularly addressed to Russian Jewry. Smolenskin sharply criticized  Mendelssohn and called for the promotion of Jewish nationalist values. During this period, however, he was a lone voice. Most maskilim in Russia followed the Western assimilationist trend. A.U Kovner was representative of those who welcomed this trend, while J. L. Gordon regretted it, but accepted it, as in his Le Mi Ani Amel (for whom do I labor?), published in 1871.  

However, the rise of the Jews in secular society produced an anti-Semitic movement  whose spokesmen included leading Russian intellectuals such as Aksakov and Dostoyevski. The press incited  the Russian masses against the Jews and warned them of "domination" by the Jews, especially intellectuals. This movement gathered momentum following the assassination of Alexander the II, resulting in pogroms (1881–83) and repressive legislation.  One of these, the numerus clausus (quota for Jews allowed to enter institutions of higher education), was especially designed to bar the way of the Jewish youth to the Russian schools.

The older maskilim tried to keep their faith in "progress." Their views were aired in the newspaper Voskhod, published in St. Petersburg from 1881–1906. Another reaction was socialist revolutionary ideology. A considerable portion of Jewish youth joined the Russian revolutionary movement with the hope that the fall of the Czarist regime would eliminate all restrictions, and that the Jews would be assimilated and rapidly absorbed within the Russian people. A third section were Zionists. They established the of the older generation and the intellectual Jewish youth resorted to Jewish nationalism. They established the Hovevei Tzion movement which considered that the solution of the Jewish problem in Russia lay in the emigration of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, where they would engage in productive occupations. They called for an alliance with the Jewish masses who were attached to their traditions and language, in other words, with the rabbinical authorities, in order to realize this project. The organs of this sector were the Jewish-Russian newspaper Razsvet  and later Ha-Melitz. The pogroms caused Jewish intellectuals to remember the Autoemancipation manifesto of Leon Pinsker and renewed interest in settlement in Israel. The BILU were a product of this movement and their ideology represented an uneasy and fluctuating synthesis between Haskalah and rabbinical Judaism. Another movement that would grow out of the revolutionary ferment was the Bund, which insisted on retaining ties to Jewish culture, but attempted to discard Jewish nationalism.  Haskalah was now eclipsed by socialism, Bundism and Zionism.

The large number of Jews in Russia, their great concentrations in the towns and townlets of the Pale of Settlement, and the anti-Semitism and backwardness of Russian society, prevented the Haskalah movement from following the rapid course of assimilation and disintegration of Haskalah in Western Western Europe. Thus, in Russia, the new Hebrew literature became a permanent fact and not an ephemeral phenomenon as in the West. Haskalah in Russia aslo produced a secular literature in Yiddish, especially of Yiddish fiction. It gave rise to an alert Jewish press in three languages, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian. It also gave to the  Zionist movement, the idea of turning Jews to "productive" labor such as manufactures and agriculture rather than service jobs, handicrafts and peripheral occupations.

The Haskalah and Women

Until the modern era, women had virtually no existence in the intellectual and political life of Europe, and this was particularly true of Jewish women. Rabbinical Judaism centered around religion, and women did not have to participate in study of Talmud or prayer, and could not be leaders or Rabbis. Consequently, there was no need for women to have much education. Those who were literate generally learned to read Yiddish. The main theological work of female Jewish culture was evidently the "taitsch chumesh" - a simplified rendition of the five books of Moses into Yiddish. The Haskalah in Russia and Eastern Europe made possible the emancipation of Jewish women.

In the last three decades of the 19th century, the Haskalah in Eastern Europe had a significant literary impact on Jewish women as both readers and writers. As in Western and Central Europe, women preceded men in their knowledge of European languages and culture and as readers of secular Jewish literature in both Yiddish and Hebrew, particularly fiction and poetry. Often, women readers introduced new ideas into their families which contributed to the undermining of the values of traditional society. Reading of worlds and opportunities previously unimagined, they exerted a strong influence against the cultural constraints of their restricted society, sometimes encouraging the men in their circles to defect from the limitations of the yeshivah world (see I. Parush, Reading Jewish Women).

Numerous female authors wrote and published poetry and prose in Hebrew, Yiddish, and particularly Russian periodicals between 1870 and 1914. Some came from the shtetl; others, the daughters of prosperous middle-class urban Jews, attended gymnasia, learned European languages, and earned university degrees. Among women writing in Hebrew was Sarah Feiga Meinkin Foner (1855–1936) of Dvinsk, Latvia, the first woman to publish a Hebrew novel (The Love of the Honest (Vilna, 1881–83)). She went on to write children's stories, a novella, and a memoir (C. Balin, "To Reveal Our Hearts," 22–23). Miriam Markel-Mosessohn (1839–1920), an excellent Hebraist who became a protégée of Judah Leib Gordon, mainly devoted herself to translating European literature into Hebrew and journalism, apparently believing it was inappropriate for a woman to write original works in Hebrew.

Haskalah and the Dilemma of European Jews

The emancipation movement and the laws that provoked forced cultural genocide of the Jews, from the most "enlightened" motives, created an insoluble dilemma for the Jews of Europe. On the one hand, the edicts gave the Jews "freedom." On the other hand, this "freedom" constituted in effect, the freedom to be anything but Jewish. Two intellectual constructs were created that seemed to doom Judaism. The first was the notion that Judaism could be reduced to a matter of religion and individual conscience, stripped of culture, community and ethnic Jewish tradition. Jews had the freedom to practice their religion only. As religion was no longer central to European life in general, nor particularly meaningful in an age of agnosticism and deism, this freedom was more or less meaningless. In effect, Jews were granted the freedom to be gentiles. The second construct was that the advances of modern society - science and rationalism, were somehow the exclusive intellectual property of gentile society, and incompatible with being Jewish. Somehow, it came to be believed that the Hebrew or Yiddish language was incompatible with advanced or enlightened thought, and that forward looking thoughts could only be formulated in German, French, Russian or English. Given the contributions of Jews to medicine, mathematics, development trade and other fields throughout the Middle Ages, the alienation of Judaism from modern intellectual life was absurd, paradoxical and "incorrect." However, this bizarre idea was suited both to the purposes of nationalist governments and to the outlook of rabbinical society. Rabbinical thought, which hitherto had been in many senses eclectic or neutral, saw the new intellectual movements as inimical and threatening. The opposition to questioning of religion was of long standing, illustrated by the tragedy of Spinoza. The problem was mostly theoretical until the 18th and 19th centuries. Jews had been forbidden by gentile laws from engaging in most "gentile" occupations or studying in universities, which had been, in large part, centers of Christian theology. Restrictive laws made the Jews a community within the state, which was addressed by law through state appointed or state recognized rabbis.  But now the entire surrounding world was open to the Jews. They could read philosophy in German or French and science in English or Russian. The new situation, coupled with edicts that removed official sanction from rabbinical leadership of the Jewish communities, provoked a bitter reaction. Both the moral and temporal authorities of the rabbis were threatened. Many rabbis proclaimed that new ideas of any kind were contrary to Jewish tradition. Reading of secular works was banned, and a portion of the Orthodox community turned in on itself in absolute opposition to any sort of progress or change, resulting in groups such as the Neturei Karta

The motivation of Haskalah

Those Jews who wanted to enter modern secular life but at the same time retain their Jewishness found that they had little to offer to compete with the magnificent achievements and exciting intellectual movements of the non-Jewish world: the encyclopedists, enlightenment, and later socialism. The Haskalah  is often derided by traditional Jewish critics as "assimilationism" but in intent it was the opposite. The Haskalah movement attempted, and to some extent succeeded, in creating a viable Jewish intellectual and cultural movement that would take away the monopoly held by non-Jewish thought and culture on progress and modern ideas.

Haskalah and the Jewish emancipation movement in general spawned a number of movements and phenomena. A large portion of the Maskilim or their children did in fact assimilate. This was not necessarily the fault of Haskalah ideas, but was rather inevitable given that forced assimilation was the goal of the various emancipation policies. The notion that Judaism is just a religion, and should be only a religion, had to result in the radical reform Judaism movement which asserted that Judaism is not a national movement in any sense and banned the use of Hebrew in Jewish worship. The emancipation of the Jews made the following challenge to the Jews: "If you no longer believe any of the ancient superstitions, then what is the point of clinging to your ancient rituals, and to your outmoded and sterile culture?" This was the unrecognized dilemma that was first implicit in the paradox of Spinoza. Spinoza was a non-believer in the Jewish religion, and was excommunicated for his heretical ideas. At the same time, Spinoza was most certainly Jewish. How could this be possible, if Judaism is only a religion?

Haskalah tried to provide an answer. However, as long as Judaism was conceived to be "just a religion" it was impossible to support or justify a separate Jewish culture outside the framework of orthodoxy, and therefore assimilation was inevitable. But the Haskalah movement also led inevitably to the adoption of the central feature of the modern secular intellectual revival: nationalism, and therefore, Haskalah eventually led to Zionism.

Ami Isseroff

March 4, 2007

Based in part on Encyclopedia Judaica.


Synonyms and alternate spellings

Further Information:


Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.


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