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


(4,170 words)

Author(s): Wilke, Carsten L.
After the loss of temple and statehood, the rise in late antiquity of a legally trained class, the rabbis, produced its own form of inner-Jewish authority. However, a standard office (the rabbinate), exercised by an officially appointed rabbi with decision-making powers in ritual matters and areas of civil law, only began to emerge in the Middle Ages. In the modern era, the sphere of influence of the community rabbi shifted to cultural, representative, and pedagogical duties. One charac…
Date: 2022-09-30

Rabbinical Conferences

(3,640 words)

Author(s): Wilke, Carsten L.
From antiquity to the present day, rabbinical conferences have been a means of further developing Jewish law (Halakhah), often in reaction to cultural crises and challenges, as well as a prelude to the successful establishment of lasting institutions. Fundamental decisions of significant importance were made at rabbinical conferences, especially in cases in which the usual route toward the consolidation of halakhic consensus by means of individual decisions and local customs did not see…
Date: 2022-09-30

Rabbinical Seminary

(2,454 words)

Author(s): Morgenstern, Matthias
The rabbinical seminary in Berlin, founded in 1873 by Esriel Hildesheimer, programatically advocated for the synthesis of traditional Jewish education with modern academic education. As well as being an Orthodox response to the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau and the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, it was at the same time an expression of the modernizing trends that had also manifested themselves in the emergence of German-Jewish Neo-Orthodox…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,086 words)

Author(s): Efron, John M.
The race research that arose in the 19th century, also known as racial anthropology or physical anthropology, acted on the assumption of qualitative differences between the human “races” that were intended to be viewed as putatively superior or lesser. Jews were already considered by 18th century anthropologists to be an easily identifiable and homogeneous group. In spite of the diversity of phenotypes of Jews and Jewries, modern race research continued to maintain the thesis of a “Jewi…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,317 words)

Author(s): Sapoznik, Henry
From the 1920s onward, radio developed into one of the most important forms of expression for Yiddish culture through media in the United States; it had its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. The spectrum of programs ranged from popular music shows and series, through religious programs conceived for a Jewish audience, to patriotic promotions and information about issues facing Jewish refugees during the Second World War. Until the rise of television in the 1950s, Yiddish-language radio formed an important interface between Eastern European Jewish and American culture. 1. OriginsThe dis…
Date: 2022-09-30


(4,519 words)

Author(s): Roth, Ralf
None of the technical innovations of the 19th century changed the lives of humans as enduringly as the railway and the unlimited mobility it promised. Jewish investors early recognized the modernization potential of the new means of transportation. Jewish entrepreneurs were among the main players involved in the expansion of the railway, above all in the form of establishing and maintaining extensive traffic networks in Europe and North America at first, but soon on other continents as well. In …
Date: 2022-09-30

Raison d'État

(3,161 words)

Author(s): Kedar, Nir
The Hebrew word mamlakhtiyut (approx.: acting in accordance with the requirements of the state, raison d’état, reason of state) was coined by David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973) and applies to the conditions of the functionality of a sovereign state, its modus operandi, and the civic consciousness of its citizens. The concept of polity linked to this term dominated the political debates in the Yishuv during the 1930s and during the early years of the State of Israel. After the foundation of the state in 1948, Ben-Gurion, as its first prime minister, used mamlakhtiyut as legitimation for th…
Date: 2022-09-30


(2,204 words)

Author(s): Norkina, Ekaterina
Between 1861 and 1934, four different Russian-language Jewish weekly newspapers were published under the title  Rassvet (Dawn), initially in Odessa and St. Petersburg, and later in Berlin and Paris. All four newspapers used the title Rassvet to express their aim of achieving a fundamental transformation in Russian-Jewish life. The papers covered a wide thematic range, from the maskilic struggles for emancipation and acculturation from the mid-19th century onward to the Zionist program of national rebirth in the 20th century. 1. Odessa (1860/1861)The first Jewish newspaper…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,428 words)

Author(s): Jaiser, Constanze
From 1939 until 1945, the largest concentration camp for women in the “Großdeutsches Reich” (Greater German Reich) was located near the village of Ravensbrück. Jewish women were also interned and murdered in Ravensbrück; in the last months of the war they made up at least a quarter of the inmates. After 1945, the camp’s historically significant role during the Holocaust was initially overshadowed by the women’s camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as overlooked by the state-directed antif…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,029 words)

Author(s): Scheuerman, William E.
An influential movement in the teaching of international relations, realism argued that responsible political actions are based on the recognition that national policy is driven by interests. A prominent founder of this trend was the political scientist Hans J. Morgenthau (1904–1980), a German who fled from the Nazis to America. His understanding of realism was decisively shaped by his political experience during the interwar period. 1. IntroductionThe term “realism” is used in various disciplines, including aesthetics, epistemology, literary studies, and als…
Date: 2022-09-30

Reb Henokh

(4,399 words)

Author(s): Gruschka, Roland
Title of a multi-lingual satirical comedy written in Hebrew characters by the Jewish Lumière Isaac Euchel (1756–1804) from 1792 to 1793 in Berlin. Reb Henokh (Yidd.; “Mr. Henokh”) focuses on the crisis of the Jewish middle and upper classes at the center of the tensions between Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Orthodoxy. Euchel, who played a significant part in creating Moses Mendelssohn’s image as the founding father of the Berlin Haskalah, is nowadays himself seen as a determining initiator of the Jewish Enlighte…
Date: 2022-09-30


(2,681 words)

Author(s): Studemund-Halévy, Michael
In the first half of the 17th century, the Brazilian port of Recife was at the center of the Portuguese–Dutch colonial conflict over territories on the northeastern coast of South America. Under Dutch rule (1630–1654), the city flourished as a center of trade, and the freedom of religion granted to the Jews led to the foundation of the first Jewish community in the New World in 1636. In the following years, Recife primarily attracted Jews from Amsterdam (Esnoga), who were mainly active in the sl…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,994 words)

Author(s): von Wussow, Philipp
Key concept of the philosopher Alexandre Kojève (1902–1968), who became famous for his Hegel seminar in 1930s Paris and the notion of the “end of history” conceived there. Kojève’s seminar played an important role in the spreading of the Hegelian philosophy of history in France. His vision of a universal and homogeneous state had a significant impact on many French intellectuals. At the same time, it is considered the historical-philosophical prerequisite of Jewish assimilation in the modern era, which was particularly apparent in the debate between Kojève and Leo Strauss.1. Introd…
Date: 2022-09-30

Red Army

(3,169 words)

Author(s): Makhalova, Irina
Name of the armed forces of Soviet Russia from 1918, and of the Soviet Union from 1922 onward. Unlike the military of the Czarist era, the Red Army offered Jews numerous opportunities for advancement. In the 1920s and 1930s, generals like Iona E. Yakir (1896–1937) or Semyon M. Krivoschein (1899–1978) were among the prominent modernizers of the Red Army, distinguishing themselves as commanders in battles fought by the Soviet Union. Many of them would become victims of the Stalinist purges. In the…
Date: 2022-09-30

Red Cavalry

(4,149 words)

Author(s): Freidin, Gregory
Isaac Babel’s (1894–1940) 1926 book Konarmiya (“Red Cavalry,” 2002) is considered a masterpiece of early Soviet Russian literature. In the thirty-five short stories of the slim volume, Babel presents a powerful battle panorama based on the Polish-Soviet War of 1920. He also created the self-portrait of a sympathetic first-person narrator, a Jewish intellectual influenced by European humanism and Russian culture as well as Jewish traditions, who experiences a feeling of empowerment through violence, f…
Date: 2022-09-30

Red Orchestra

(3,260 words)

Author(s): Coppi, Hans
“Red Orchestra” was the name given by the German Abwehr and the Gestapo initially to people in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands who had relayed information via radio between July 1941 and November 1942 to the Soviet military intelligence services, the GRU ( Glavnoe Razvedyvatel’noe Upravlenie, the Main Intelligence Directorate at the General Staff of the Red Army). Based on this, the Gestapo later reconstructed a Soviet espionage network that extended across all of Western Europe and Germany. The “head boss” of the Red Orchestra was c…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,767 words)

Author(s): Meyer, Michael A.
Proceeding from the aim of modernizing the faith and religious practice of all Jews, the Reform movement gradually developed into a religious trend within Judaism, referred to as Reform Judaism, liberal or progressive Judaism. The Reform movement had its origins in Germany, spread to other European countries, and finally achieved its greatest influence in the United States, where today it is followed by the majority of practicing Jews. Conceived as a contemporary response to the experience of re…
Date: 2022-09-30


(4,126 words)

Author(s): Hofmann, Stefan
The term “Regietheater” (director’s theatre), which has been used since the 1970s in theatre criticism, refers to a director’s choice to design a staging as opposed to the idea of faithfulness to the original. The practice of Regietheater emerged in the early 20th century with the increased appreciation of the director’s role and was decisively shaped by Leopold Jessner (1878–1945). As Intendant (general director) of the Preußisches Staatstheater in Berlin, Jessner, with his stagings of classics, above all opposed the cultural conservative practices…
Date: 2022-09-30

Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten

(2,501 words)

Author(s): Berger, Michael
The Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten (RjF; Reich Federation of Jewish Front-Line Soldiers), which was founded in 1919, aimed to counteract antisemitic propaganda after the First World War by honoring Jewish soldiers’ military contributions and self-sacrifice on behalf of the German Empire. Starting in the early 1920s the RjF organized self-protection measures against antisemitic attacks. The RjF’s proclamations were characterized by a strong connection to the military and to contemporary Germa…
Date: 2022-09-30


(3,709 words)

Author(s): Schüler-Springorum, Stefanie
The German Reichstag, established in 1871, is the most significant symbolic place of the German Parliament in the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. Given the status and self-understanding of the German Jews as legally equal citizens, and in view of the low proportion of the overall population they constituted anyway, the Reichstag was not a relevant forum for representation of Jewish concerns. Jewish parliamentarians, who included women after 1918, were members of the Reichstag as represent…
Date: 2022-09-30
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