Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online

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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


(1,377 words)

Author(s): Soffer, Oren
The daily newspaper  Ha’aretz (The Land), which was created during the First World War as the continuation of a publication produced by the British military, is linked with the rise of the private press in Mandatory Palestine. Its economic breakthrough came at the end of the 1930s when the German-Jewish entrepreneur Salman Schocken took over, and his descendants have continued the business since then. Politically independent and somewhat liberally oriented, over the years  Ha’aretz has developed into a newspaper of record in the Israeli press.1. BeginningsFollowing the gradual…
Date: 2020-05-12

Haʿavarah Agreement

(2,942 words)

Author(s): Weiss, Yfaat
Agreement negotiated during the summer of 1933 between the Jewish Agency, the Zionist Federation of Germany, and the Imperial Ministry of Economic Affairs. The agreement facilitated the emigration of German Jews to Palestine by enabling them to transfer a portion of their assets. The assets were to be paid into an escrow account in order to be exported to Palestine in the form of German goods and then paid back to the emigrants in the local currency. This so-called Transfer Agreement met with st…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,578 words)

Author(s): Zer-Zion, Shelly
Habima (Hebr. ha-bima, the stage) was the first professional theatre to stage performances in Hebrew. Founded in Moscow in 1918, it collaborated with the Moscow Artists’ Theatre as a studio theatre until 1926, when it left Russia the troupe toured throughout Europe, United States, and Palestine, where it settled in 1931. Habima’s special character was a result of its constant effort to create a Jewish self-understanding, which was accompanied by very high artistic standards. In 1958, Habima was designated Israel’s national theatre.1. BeginningsWhen an ethnic understanding o…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,847 words)

Author(s): Bartal, Nira
Women’s organization founded in 1912 in New York and primarily involved in the areas of health and education in Israel. The founder, Henrietta Szold (1860–1945), took her inspiration from the ideas of American Progressivism and the women’s rights movement. For more than thirty years, Hadassah worked to establish medical and social institutions and women’s rights in Jewish Palestine. The organization exerted great influence on modernizing the Yishuv as well as on the formation of American Zionism. Today, Hadassah is the largest women’s organization in the United States.1. Foundin…
Date: 2020-05-12

Ḥakham Bashi

(2,171 words)

Author(s): Harel, Yaron
The highest-ranking rabbi (Rabbinate) of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire, appointed by the ruling power. The institution was introduced by the High Porte in 1835 in the context of far-reaching reforms; it signaled a reduction in Jewish autonomy and a strengthening of the central government. The origin of the Ḥakham Bashi from the ranks of traditional textual scholars and his purely secular-political official duties led to an unclear understanding of the role on the part of the incumbent and, as a…
Date: 2020-05-12

Hakoah Vienna

(1,460 words)

Author(s): Bunzl, John
Jewish sports club founded in 1909 in Vienna initially as a football club. Created under the impression of the exclusion of “non-Aryans” from Austrian gymnastics and sports clubs around the turn of the 20th century, it went beyond offering sporting activity to become an outstanding symbol of identification for the Jews of Vienna. One of its greatest successes included winning the Austrian professional football championship in 1925.In September 1909, Jewish students in Vienna decided to establish their own soccer club at the suggestion of Lipot Weiss, presid…
Date: 2020-05-12


(7,549 words)

Author(s): Zvi Zohar
The Jewish Halakhah (literally “the way to walk”) is the body of rules that has evolved through casuist discourse regulating the lives of Jewish individuals and communities. This set of rules, which is intended to guard against violation of the biblical commandments, was not absolutely immutable. Beginning with its earliest codification as the Mishnah (Talmud) in antiquity, the Halakhah has continually been adapted to life’s circumstances. Therefore, the rules have not been identical ac…
Date: 2020-05-12

Halakhic Man

(2,913 words)

Author(s): Kaplan, Lawrence
Ish ha-halakhah (Halakhic man) is the title and eponymous hero of a work published in Hebrew in 1944 by Joseph Dov Soloveitchik (1903–1993), one of the leading rabbinic scholars and theologians of the second half of the 20th century. In common with other writings by Soloveitchik on Jewish law (Halakhah) and the character of the Halakhic man, this text possesses a near-unique authority achieved by scarcely any other modern work on this subject.1. Introduction Ish ha-halakhah is a phenomenologial analysis of the consciousness of its eponymous hero. The figure of the H…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,558 words)

Author(s): Shilo, Margalit
Ḥalukkah (Hebr.; “distribution”) is a traditional institution still in existence, dedicated to collecting donations for the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. Before the immigrations beginning in the final third of the 19th century and the founding of the State of Israel, the  ḥalukkah system was the most important source of subsistence in the old Yishuv. It was grounded in the conviction that the Jews in the Holy Land were ambassadors to God from everyone in the Diaspora.The tradition of making donations for the Jews in the Holy Land is as old as the exile itsel…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,964 words)

Author(s): Kouts, Gidéon
The first edition of the Hebrew weekly  Ha-Maggid (Eng. The Courier; also The Preacher) appeared in 1856. It was aimed at an enlightened Jewish readership in the Russian Empire. The highly successful newspaper reflected the political and cultural developments in Russia during the following four decades of its publication, as well as the changes within the Jewish press. Dedicated to communicating current affairs, Ha-Maggid lent cautious support to the efforts at modernization on the part of the Jewish community and laid the groundwork for a political consci…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,444 words)

Author(s): Studemund-Halévy, Michael
In the 17th century, descendants of forcibly baptized Iberian Jews (Conversos) founded the Jewish Portuguese community in Hamburg. Many of these Sephardic businessmen achieved great wealth and social recognition. Despite this, they were estranged from the Ashkenazi and non-Jewish citizens of Hamburg; they emphasized their affiliation to European and transatlantic  nação (“nation”) Portuguese Jews. As home to the largest Portuguese-Jewish community in Germany and an important hub in the network of  nação communities, Hamburg became the most important place of mem…
Date: 2020-05-12

Hamburg Temple Dispute

(2,029 words)

Author(s): Brämer, Andreas
In 1819, a new prayerbook was published in Hamburg that contained the first comprehensive Jewish Reform liturgy. The changes from the traditional Ashkenazi prayerbook contained in the new Siddur unleashed a Europe-wide controversy, which became known as the Hamburg Temple Dispute and treated numerous questions of worship that were also in the foreground of later religious debates over modernization. The Hamburg Temple Dispute marks the beginnings of pluralism in Judaism, which has continued to the present day. 1. The reform of the Hamburg prayerbookIn December 1817, 65 Hambur…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,599 words)

Author(s): Sadowski, Dirk
In 1783, the Berlin Enlightenment thinker Isaac Euchel published the first modern Hebrew magazine. Modeled on contemporary monthlies of the Enlightenment, Ha-Me'assef (The Collector), published in Germany from 1783 and intermittently until 1797, offered the Jewish Lumières of the 18th century a publishing platform for the dissemination of their reform ideas. Against the backdrop of progressing embourgeoisement and acculturation processes, the reform publication lost importance in the first decade of the 19th century…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,167 words)

Author(s): Goikhman, Izabella
Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province in the northeast of the People's Republic of China, was the center of the Russian leased territory in Manchuria in the first half of the 20th century. The construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER), operated by Russia, also brought Jews to Harbin, in addition to other ethnic groups. The favorable social and economic conditions and the multicultural character of the city led to the establishment of the largest Jewish community in the Far Ea…
Date: 2020-05-12


(6,387 words)

Author(s): Dynner, Glenn
Hasidism is a popular form of Jewish mysticism which goes back to the teachings of Baʿal Shem Tov (around 1700–1760) from Medzhybizh (Pol. Międzybóż, today’s Ukraine). Although this spiritual movement is today associated with Jewish ultra-Orthodoxy, its founders had accepted a limited degree of acculturation in order to establish the new Hasidic theology. In their efforts to propagate Hasidism, its followers used new technological achievements in media communication and the working methods of po…
Date: 2020-05-12


(7,134 words)

Author(s): Feiner, Shmuel
From the final two decades of the 18th century, the humanist and emancipatory ideas of the European Enlightenment found more and more supporters among young educated Jews. Their demand for a Jewish Enlightenment (Hebr. haskalah) through the reform of the classical educational ideal and traditional educational program, as well as their challenge to absolute rabbinical authority, was fiercely opposed by the traditional intellectual elites. Although the concerns of the Jewish Lumières (Hebr. maskilim) were revolutionary, they were more concerned with a reform of Judais…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,273 words)

Author(s): Randhofer, Regina
Ha-Tikvah (Eng. hope) is one of the most important musical symbols of Judaism in modern times. Developed from a poem that described the poet's yearning for Zion, it entered into the folklore treasures of Jewish Palestine (Yishuv) as a song, and became the emblem of the Zionist movement until the newly founded state of Israel finally adopted it as the national anthem. The genesis of Ha-Tikvah is closely linked to the beginnings of the Zionist settlement of Palestine from the 1880s (Aliyah; Ḥoveve Tsiyon). It begins in Romanian Iaşi. In 1877, the poet Naphtali …
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,217 words)

Author(s): Engel, David
A circular letter of American foreign minister John Hay of August 11, 1902, on the anti-Jewish legislation in Romania. The letter was addressed to the leading US diplomats in the capitals of the seven signatory powers of the Berlin Congress of 1878 – Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. It contained instructions to remind the foreign ministers of these countries that the Berlin Treaty obligated Romania not to discriminate against Jews. …
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,363 words)

Author(s): Steffen, Katrin
The Yiddish daily newspaper  Haynt (Today) was founded in 1908 by Shmuel Yankev Yatskan in collaboration with Avrom Goldberg and the brothers Noyekh and Nekhemye Finkelshteyn and appeared until September 22, 1939, in Warsaw.  Haynt was the first newspaper in the Russian Empire, and later in Poland, which offered comprehensive news from all areas of life to a mass Jewish readership. In the Second Polish Republic, numerous other Jewish press products followed, creating a differentiated, technically modern, and multilingual news…
Date: 2020-05-12


(6,688 words)

Author(s): Schatz, Andrea
Hebrew is the language of large parts of the Bible. Its development is to be understood within the context of Jewish plurilingualism. Ancient, medieval, and early modern reflection on and practice of language interpreted it as a sacred language, divine language, and Jewish language in exile. Its more recent history is characterized by a series of radical transformations. In the 18th century, Hebrew took shape as a modern language of the Jewish nation in the Diaspora, while in the 19th century it…
Date: 2020-05-12
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