The Idea of Modern Jewish Culture

The Idea of Modern Jewish Culture

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The vast majority of intellectual, religious, and national developments in modern Judaism revolve around the central idea of 'Jewish culture'. This book is the first synoptic view of these developments that organises and relates them from this vantage point. The first Jewish modernisation movements perceived culture as the defining trait of the outside alien social environment to which Jewry had to adapt. To be 'cultured' was to be modern-European, as opposed to medieval-ghetto-Jewish. In short order, however, the Jewish religious legacy was redefined retrospectively as a historical 'culture', with fateful consequences for the conception of Judaism as a human and not only a divinely mandated regime.The conception of Judaism-as-culture took two main forms: an integrative, vernacular Jewish culture that developed in tandem with the integration of Jews into the various nations of western-central Europe and America, and a national Hebrew culture which, though open to the inputs of modern European society, sought to develop a revitalised Jewish national identity that ultimately found expression in the revival of the Jewish homeland and the State of Israel. This is a large, complex story in which the author describes the contributions of Mendelssohn, Wessely, Krochmal, Zunz, the mainstream Zionist thinkers (especially Ahad Ha-Am, Bialik, and A.D. Gordon), Kook, Kaplan, and Dubnow to the formulation of the various versions of the modern Jewish cultural ideal.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 292 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 589.67g
  • Academic Studies Press
  • Brighton, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1934843059
  • 9781934843055

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Review quote

..".Schweid's work is a significant addition to the analysis of European Jewish thought in the modern period."--Rabbi Josh Levy, Manna, Autumn 2009

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About Eliezer Schweid

Eliezer Schweid is Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University. He has published 40 books in general and specific areas of Jewish thought of all periods, and has commented frequently on the relevance of the legacy of Jewish thought to contemporary issues of Jewish and universal human concern. He is the recipient of the distinguished Israel Prize and two honorary doctorates.

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