Synopses & Reviews
The transformation of German Jewry from 1780 to 1840 exemplified a twofold revolution: on one level, the end of the feudal status of Jews as an autonomous community forced them to face a protracted process of political emancipation, a far-reaching social metamorphosis, and growing racial anti-Semitism; yet, on another level, their encounter with the surrounding culture resulted in their own intense cultural productivity. In this ground-breaking study, David Sorkin argues that emancipation and encounter with German culture and society led not to assimilation but to the creation of a new Jewish identity and community--a true and vibrant subculture that produced many of Judaism's modern movements and fostered a pantheon of outstanding writers, artists, composers, scientists, and academics. He contends that German-Jewish subculture was based not, as widely believed, on nationalistic (Jewish versus German) or religious (Jewish versus Christian) disparities, but rather on the struggle for freedom and social acceptance in German society. By studying German Jewry's cultural history in its social and political context, as well as in the larger setting of German history, this study firmly asserts that the subculture both distinguished German Jewry from other European Jewish communities and accounted for its members' prominent role in Jewish and general culture.
"Represents an important and original analysis of a complex and significant transition in modern Jewish history."--American Historical Review
"Outlines with keen insight and perception the tangled relationship between Jews and those German-speaking lands which later--much later--were to constitute the German Empire....Dazzlingly brilliant...it may reorient German as well as Jewish historical thinking."--Judaism
"Much of the ground covered in David Sorkin's splendid book is old, but he has a subtlety of insight and a novelty of approach which makes what he has to say new and compelling."--Times Higher Education Supplement
"Sorkin has clearly offered one of the most imaginative and innovative portraits of the Jewish experience in Germany."--Theory and Society
"Ambitious and...subtle in its approach."--Journal of Modern History
This treatise argues that the emancipation of German Jews and their subsequent encounter with German culture led not to assimilation, but to the creation of a new Jewish identity and community - a subculture - that produced many of Judaism's modern movements, artists, scientists and academics.