Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Dan Diner

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From Europe to America to the Middle East, North Africa and other non-European Jewish settlement areas the Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture covers the recent history of the Jews from 1750 until the 1950s.

More information: Brill.com


(5,845 words)

Author(s): Kirchhoff, Markus
In 1840, Damascus was the scene of a ritual murder accusation, as a result of which the Jewry of the city was persecuted, four Jews were tortured to death, and several incarcerated Jews were induced to confess under torture. The case came to be known as the Damascus Affair, the best known of such accusations in the 19th century. The diplomacy of the European powers became involved, and the goings-on excited great attention in the press and among the public. European Jews, shocked by the…
Date: 2018-11-16


(3,834 words)

Author(s): Eraqi, Bat-Zion
Exponents of an early 20th-century Jewish Enlightenment movement in Yemen referred to themselves as  Dardaʿim (Generation of the Knowledgeable). They pushed for reform of Jewish educational methods and religious practice. Their ideas were not implemented due to resistance from the conservative  Ikshim (Obstinates), who defended the traditional Yemeni-Jewish customs and kabbalistic concepts. Despite this, the  Dardaʿim were the best-known movement of modern Yemeni-Jewish society. Their emergence relied on Enlightenment and modernist movements with…
Date: 2018-11-16

[Das] Hebräerland

(3,266 words)

Author(s): Hessing, Jakob
The prose work  Das Hebräerland (1937) by the poet Else Lasker-Schüler (1869–1945) recounts impressions and experiences from her sojourn in Palestine in 1934. Written in exile in Zurich, the text is part travelogue, part eschatological fantasy, in which images of a divine landscape overlay the real and political circumstances at play in the country. It contains a deep expression of the biblical longing for redemption that also pervades Else Lasker-Schüler’s lyrical works.1. IntroductionElse Lasker-Schüler was among the first to flee Germany soon after the transfer…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,003 words)

Author(s): Soffer, Oren
Hebrew-language daily newspaper established in 1925 by Histadrut (Federation of Labour in the Land of Israel) in Palestine under the British Mandate. As the organ of Labor Zionism,  Davar (Hebr.; "thing," "word," "expression") rapidly assumed a leading position in the media landscape of the Yishuv​. The paper was not only a prime medium for political debate in the foundation period of the State of Israel; it also made an important contribution to the development of modern Hebrew literature and culture. The newspaper’s chief instigator was Berl Katznelson (1887−1944), th…
Date: 2018-11-16

Davos Disputation

(3,967 words)

Author(s): von Wussow, Philipp
The dispute between Ernst Cassirer (Philosophy of Culture) and Martin Heidegger at the Davos academic colloquium in 1929 came to be canonized through the reception of some epochal events in history into an incident that prepared the way, on an intellectual level, for the real-world break that took place in 1933 between Jews and Germans. While the opponents themselves maintained quite collegial relations until 1932, their philosophical positions were indeed irreconcilable. Their conceptions of su…
Date: 2018-11-16


(2,338 words)

Author(s): Goldberg, Sylvie Anne
The attitude to death is an essential part of Jewish self-understanding. Guided by belief in the bodily resurrection in a world to come, to the human body which concerns not only the dead, but also the living body. The doctrines of faith and rituals associated with death promoted a "memorial theology," which places death and everything related to it at the heart of ritual provisions. Although emancipation and secularization shifted the understanding of death to the individual, it remains a central reference point, which expresses the individual's ties to their origin. 1. Principles in…
Date: 2018-11-16

Death Marches

(2,363 words)

Author(s): Greiser, Katrin
The death marches refer to the brutal and for many prisoners fatal transports, by means of which the SS cleared the concentration and extermination camps at the end of the Second World War. It is estimated that from January to early May 1945 at least a quarter of a million people were murdered in the concentration camp system, in the camps themselves, or on the death marches, including tens of thousands of Jews. For the people in the camps, especially for Jews, the evacuations meant the…
Date: 2018-11-16

Debate on Essence

(3,328 words)

Author(s): Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm
The debates on essence are classified as the discussions held at the beginning of the 20th century, both on the Christian and the Jewish sides, concerning the fundamental questions of the "essence" of each confession. Triggered by lectures of the theologian Adolf von Harnack on  Das Wesen des Christentums  (“The Essence of Christianity”), the critique published in 1905 by the liberal rabbi Leo Baeck, Das Wesen des Judentums ("The Essence of Judaism", 1936), ranked as one of the most important contributions to the debate on essence. In the disputes on the politi…
Date: 2018-11-16


(2,095 words)

Author(s): Hahn, Hans-Joachim
Salomon Hermann Mosenthal’s popular drama Deborah (1848; first performed 1849 at the Hamburg city theatre) treats the Jewish question with the example of an interfaith romance in late-18th-century Austria. The play paradigmatically expresses the hope for acculturation nurtured by liberal Jewish authors of the period from 1848 to 1871. At the same time, the literary image of “the beautiful Jewess” reveals the ambivalences of a gender-stereotyped conception of emancipation. 1. IntroductionMosenthal located the dramatic action in a village in Styria and dated it t…
Date: 2018-11-16


(3,947 words)

Author(s): Prenowitz, Eric
Although the word  déconstruction was not invented by Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), the French philosopher of Algerian-Jewish ancestry, but he gave it one of its several meanings to distinguish his idea of a hypercritical reconsideration of Western philosophy from the approach of traditional philosophers. Despite his own skepticism, “deconstruction” became established as a generally defining term for Derrida’s work, which came to be canonized as a poststructuralist school of continental European phi…
Date: 2018-11-16


(5,198 words)

Author(s): DellaPergola, Sergio
The size of the global Jewish population was subject to drastic fluctuations between the late Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era. It never comprised more than 1.5 million people. From the 18th century on, the numbers trended upward, parallel to the general demographic and reflecting various regional developments – high growth rates in traditionally rural Eastern Europe, the practice of urban family planning in Central and Western Europe. Factors specific to Jewish demographics, like…
Date: 2018-11-16

Department Stores

(3,020 words)

Author(s): Lerner, Paul
From the 1880s, the nascent dissemination of department stores was based on the increasing availability of inexpensive mass-produced products, combined with the growing purchasing power and increased leisure time of consumers. In France, the United States, and Great Britain, individual Jewish entrepreneurs operated department stores; meanwhile in the German Reich, the industry was so widely dominated by Jewish owners that the department store was largely perceived as a Jewish phenomenon…
Date: 2018-11-16

[Der] Emes

(1,521 words)

Author(s): Estraikh, Gennady
Der Emes (The Truth) was the first Yiddish-language communist newspaper. It was established in 1918 as an organ of the Jewish Commissariat of the Soviet government and was the central organ of the Soviet-Yiddish press until 1938. As a daily paper,  Der Emes reproduced a great deal of material in the form of translations from  Pravda and other central Soviet papers and so adopted the cumbersome style and content of these publications, if not outdoing them in this regard. In the literary section, the paper presented its Yiddish readership with curre…
Date: 2018-11-16

[Der] Orient

(2,595 words)

Author(s): Schapkow, Carsten
A journal that appeared weekly from 1840–1851 in Leipzig, published by the orientalist Julius Fürst (1805–1873). Decisively marked by Fürst’s political and scholarly interests,  Der Orient offered journalistic contributions on the contemporary status of Jews as well as essays on Jewish history and culture. Fürst’s main concern was for the emancipation of the Jews, connected to the granting of basic liberal rights for all inhabitants of Germany. At the same time, his gazette came to be an early forum for the Wissenschaft des Judentums.1. Publication historyThe first edition of …
Date: 2021-07-13

Deutsch-Israelitischer Gemeindebund

(1,286 words)

Author(s): Reinke, Andreas
Voluntary association of Jewish communities in Germany aimed at self-organization in matters of administration, welfare, and education, and at representation of their interests to the outside world. The establishment of the Gemeindebund took place during the unification of the German empires in 1867–1871, with its concomitant civil equality for the German Jews. The Gemeindebund became the first successful attempt at a national-level association of Jews residing in Germany, although it was severa…
Date: 2018-11-16