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The German Jews Integration within their Non-Jewish Environment in the First Half of the 18th Century / התערותם של יהודי גרמניה בסביבתם, עם פרוס ההשכלה

עזריאל שוחט and A. Schochat
Zion / ציון
Vol. כא‎, חוברת ג/ד‎ (תשט"ז / 1956), pp. 207-235
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23561153
Page Count: 29
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The German Jews Integration within their Non-Jewish Environment in the First Half of the 18th Century / התערותם של יהודי גרמניה בסביבתם, עם פרוס ההשכלה
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Abstract

The writer endeavors to show that already in the period in question, Jews were drawing near to the non-Jewish world. This tendency was the result of the fact that religious fanaticism had been considerably weakened, primarily as a result of certain common economic interests. This was a more or less mutual reapprochment. Social intermingling took place between the non-Jewish upper classes and the Court-Jews and their families. The remaining levels of society came in contact with one another as well, although the burgher considered the Jew his competitor. The contact of the non-Jew with the Jew came about mainly through visits to synogogues, participation in Jewish family celebrations, and the spending of time together — not for business purposes — in friendly discussion of religion and ethics. Signs of Jewish identification with the environment are strongly evident in the practice of copying fashions in dress. The German Jew, generally speaking, wore clothes resembling those of the non-Jewish social class equal to his own. Likewise, Jews were beginning to wear wigs. Bachelors would shave their beards and side locks without concern for the Biblical injunctions forbidding this. There were also married men who were not careful in obeying these injunctions and shaved in the gentile fashion. More and more is heard of the teaching of languages to boys and girls. French was taught as well as German. German became a necessary subject for study when the government decided not to honor notes or commercial papers written in Yiddish or Hebrew. The study of German during childhood became a common occurence although it remained a private endeavor and was not included in the curriculum of the Cheder. There is some evidence that as early as the forties, the younger generation had begun to speak German and French. The author shows that there was friendly intercourse between the Jewish and non-Jewish youth. The author calls attention to signs of loyalty to the state authorities, such as participation in general festivities in honor of political events. Likewise, he points out the prayers for the welfare of the government. Although this was an old practice, in this period there was evidence of sincerity in it. From a theoretical point of view, the writer analyzes the opinions of Rabbi Moshe Chagiz and of Rabbi Ya'acov Emden. He shows that they advocate loyalty to the rulers of the states because they see these rulers as the defenders of Israel. There is an interesting assumption that was proposed by certain authors, that the Christians, in particular those who did not oppress the Jews, were to be counted among the "Righteous of the Gentiles". Rabbi Emden even went so far as to express sentiments of religious toleration and an appraisal of the founder of the Christian religion; something which had never been heard before from a Jewish writer. One passage bears the meaning that the two religions, Christianity and Islam, would exist forever, as long as heaven and earth.

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