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


(2,930 words)

Author(s): Bunis, David M.
A Jewish language that developed in medieval Spain as a result of contact between Jews, Ibero-Romance-speaking Spaniards, and Arabic-speaking Moors (Sepharad). After the expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, their language spread to the Ottoman Empire, North-African and other Islamic lands, and to parts of Europe. As a result of internal developments and the influence of languages native to these new settlement areas, it became markedly different from its Spanish origin. 1. Names for the languageWith the diffusion of the Jews outside of Spain, their I…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,400 words)

Author(s): Luiz Felipe Ribeiro
The experience of persecution and catastrophe throughout Jewish history created the frame of reference for the literary lamentation. The biblical Lamentations are archetypal; they provide a stock of motifs and topoi on which later texts draw. While the hermeneutics of violence are subject to the changes of secularization, the recurrent motifs of sin, punishment, and inconsolable sorrow form a constant that reflects the cyclic experience of catastrophic events from the destruction of Jerusalem in antiquity up to the Shoah.1. Songs of lamentationLamentation in the Jewish con…
Date: 2020-05-12

Language Conflict

(1,658 words)

Author(s): Müller, Marcel | Quaasdorf, Friedrich
The term “language conflict” or “language dispute” refers to a debate in the Jewish community in Palestine in 1913–1914 provoked by the question of the language of instruction to be used in secondary and higher education. The resolution to teach scientific and technical subjects at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) in Haifa exclusively in German triggered vehement protests in the new Yishuv. Here, the different conceptions of Jewish immigrants in Palestine and the representatives of …
Date: 2020-05-12


(4,503 words)

Author(s): von Wussow, Philipp
The concept of law was developed by the philosopher Leo Strauss (1899–1973) in his book  Philosophie und Gesetz (1935; “Philosophy and Law,” 1995), in an effort to find a way out of the disorientation of the present by referring back to Maimonides. Via the circuitous route of medieval rationalism, he designed a new, “legal” foundation of political philosophy. Strauss quickly abandoned the position outlined in Philosophie und Gesetz, but the question about the relationship between revelation and reason treated therein – symbolized by Jerusalem and Athens as the…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,547 words)

Author(s): Kalik, Judith
Leases of property and the exercise of monopoly rights for payment count among the most important activities of Jews in Eastern and Southeastern Europe in the early modern era. The rise of lease arrangements was tightly connected to the development of the region into the “breadbasket” of Europe at that time. The leases afforded Jews extensive economic security. Because of their disproportionate presence and position as representatives of the nobility, the Jewish leaseholders were sometimes confr…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,652 words)

Author(s): Ehrensperger, Florian
Title of the autobiography of the philosopher and Jewish Enlightenment scholar Salomon Maimon (1753–1800), published in two volumes in 1792 and 1793 by Karl Philipp Moritz. In his  Lebensgeschichte, Maimon depicts how the “favourite inclination to the study of the sciences” (as he says in the foreword) impelled him from Poland-Lithuania to Berlin, where he participated in the scholarly discourse of the time and had a significant influence on the development of post-Kantian philosophy. He developed a unique philosophical…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,165 words)

Author(s): Hotam, Yotam
The term Lebensphilosophie denotes a way of thinking that is important for the understanding of a broad spectrum of scholarly, artistic, and spiritual phenomena of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in Germany. It features a speculative approach to being, based on the idea that life, rather than spirit, is the true foundation of the universe. Lebensphilosophie was espoused both by Jewish thinkers like Henri Bergson (1859–1941) and antisemitic authors like Ludwig Klages (1872–1956). Jakob Klatzkin (1882–1948) gave it a Zionist turn.1. IntroductionGerman culture …
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,994 words)

Author(s): Held, Steffen
Trade fairs and especially the fur business played a major role in Leipzig's development into a major city. One of the city’s central streets, the Brühl, became synonymous with the Leipzig fur industry and its worldwide reputation. Jewish fur dealers, finishers, and furriers played a decisive role in Leipzig’s ascent to an international center of the fur trade, while the thriving fur business in turn played a significant role in making Leipzig attractive to Jewish immigration…
Date: 2020-05-12

Leipzig Women's College

(2,467 words)

Author(s): Maierhof, Gudrun
Founded in Leipzig in 1911, an establishment where women were able to qualify through various training courses for occupations primarily in social work. The Women’s College was the first successful institution of its kind in Germany. Its initiator was the Jewish women’s rights activist Henriette Goldschmidt (1825–1920). Influenced by the pedagogy of Friedrich Fröbel, she combined the 19th-century humanistic worldview and Jewish educational ideals with the promotion of vocational training for women.  1. Foundation and programThe Women’s College opened in the…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,263 words)

Author(s): Mick, Christoph
In autumn 1918, the Jewish population of eastern Galicia was caught between the nation-building aspirations of Poland and Ukraine. In Lemberg (Pol. Lwów; Ukr. L’viv), up until that point the capital city of the Habsburg crownland of Galicia and Lodomeria, the resident Ukrainian National Council took power on November 1. Ukrainian soldiers occupied the most strategically important areas of the city, but they met with resistance from the Polish-majority population. After a three-week struggle, the…
Date: 2020-05-12

Leo Baeck Institute

(3,679 words)

Author(s): Nattermann, Ruth
Leading establishment for documenting and researching the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry with premises in Jerusalem, New York, and London. The Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) was founded in 1955 by representatives of the Council of Jews from Germany with the support of the Claims Conference in Jerusalem. It is named for the rabbi Leo Baeck (1873–1956), a central personality of German Judaism and former president of the Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden (Reich Representation of German …
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,701 words)

Author(s): F. Kahn, Ava
Work pants made from denim or cotton ticking, produced since 1873 in San Francisco by the German-born Jew Levi Strauss. In subsequent decades, the item of clothing evolved into a cultural icon and is considered the epitome of jeans to this day. The success story of the “Levi’s” can also be read as a history of Jewish participation in the opening and settling of the American West.1. The invention of “blue jeans”The invention of the item of clothing now known as “blue jeans” dates back to Levi Strauss (1829–1902) and the tailor Jacob Davis (1834–1908).Levi Strauss was born Löb Strauß …
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,392 words)

Author(s): Soltes, Ori Z.
A planned city in Nassau County, Long Island, created between 1947 and 1951 and named after its founder, the Jewish building contractor Abraham Levitt (1880–1962). Composed of uniform, inexpensive single-family homes, the settlement was the archetypal modern suburb in the United States and the model for many other suburban settlements. Starting in the late 1940s the massive migration of American Jews from city centers into the suburbs can be traced through the history of Levittown.1. FoundationLevittown was the creation of Abraham Levitt and his sons William (1907–1994…
Date: 2020-05-12