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


(3,182 words)

Author(s): Hasan-Rokem, Galit
Ahasver is the usual name for the figure of the Eternal or Wandering Jew which has constituted the most important symbol of the Jewish people in European culture since the Early Modern Era. Because of this symbolic importance, the figure’s history and phenomenology yield many insights into European culture itself. In addition, the motif of the Wandering Jew is significant as a cultural expression and interpretation of Jewish mobility - and sometimes of mobility in general.1. IntroductionThe figure of the Wandering Jew emerged within European culture through a long coll…
Date: 2023-10-24

Ahavat Tsiyon

(1,947 words)

Author(s): Miron, Dan
Published in 1853,  Ahavat Tsiyon was the first modern novel written in Hebrew. Its author, Abraham Mapu (1808-1867), an exponent of Haskalah in Lithuania, later became an influential figure in the early Zionist movement. With its unique combination of biblical and modern influences, it became the most popular Hebrew novel of the 19th century. It went through many editions and was translated, among others, into Yiddish, Ladino, Arabic, and Judeo-Persian; it is one of the few modern 19th-century Hebrew texts that was also read by non-Ashkenazic Jews.1. IntroductionAbraham Mapu wor…
Date: 2023-10-24

Ahl al-kitāb

(1,953 words)

Author(s): Benichou Gottreich, Emily
Arabic term meaning “People of the Book,” i.e. in possession of a sacred scripture. The term recognizes the special status within the Islamic tradition up until the 19th century of specific non-Muslim groups in societies whose majorities were Muslim. It is based on the assumption of an original revelation that was the basic foundation of the different traditions of the religions of the book and that finally took its authoritative form as Islam. The attitude of Islam toward the Jews as ahl al-kitāb can be traced back to the experiences of the Prophet Muhammad with the Jewish…
Date: 2023-10-24

Akademie für die Wissenschaft des Judentums

(1,477 words)

Author(s): Brenner, Michael
The Akademie für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Academy for the Science of Judaism), a secular research institute in Berlin, was established in 1919 by the ancient historian Eugen Täubler (1879-1953), on the instigation of Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929). In the 1920s, the Akademie was the most important institution for the discipline of Jewish Studies. It set important research in motion focused on the history of the Court Jews, Jewish mysticism, and Spinoza aong other subjects, and produced text…
Date: 2023-10-24

Alef Bet

(3,831 words)

Author(s): Tamari, Ittai J. | Kilcher, Andreas B.
The Hebrew alphabet ( Alef-Bet) has been used in Jewish theosophical and kabbalistic representations of ideas from Antiquity to the Modern Era, not just as a system of graphic representation of the Hebrew language but also to convey symbolic and metaphorical meaning. The status of scribes of sacred texts in Antiquity and the Middle Ages corresponded to the sacredness (Kadosh) of the Hebrew letters, and so did the development of printing. In the context of modernization, the Hebrew alphabet was the f…
Date: 2023-10-24


(3,576 words)

Author(s): Jasper, Willi
A central square in Berlin, used by Alfred Döblin (1878–1957) as the title and setting for his novel  Berlin Alexanderplatz. This novel, which expresses the mystique of Berlin as metropolis par excellence, is part of an extensive literature reacting to the dynamic of modernization within the city with a combination of critique and fascination. Jewish authors in particular made astute observations about the promises and dangers of Berlin. Döblin’s novel exemplifies the fact that the history of German-Jewish literature is…
Date: 2023-10-24


(2,939 words)

Author(s): Niehoff, Maren R.
There was a significant Jewish community between the 3rd century BCE and the 1st century CE in Alexandria in northern Egypt, which combined a distinctively Jewish self-consciousness with integration into the surrounding culture. Jewish scholars laid the foundations for a Jewish philosophy of religion and secular interpretation of the Bible. Consequently, the Jewish community in Alexandria became an example for the liberal Jewish communities in Germany and for the Wissenschaft des Judentums.1. IntroductionAlexandria, founded in the Nile delta in 332 BCE by Alexande…
Date: 2023-10-24


(2,216 words)

Author(s): Abitbol, Michel
Administrative headquarters of the French departement of Algiers under control of the Vichy regime from 1940, and one of the places targeted by the joint American and British landing on November 8, 1942, titled “Operation Torch.” The Allied invasion of Algiers was prepared for by the military uprising of a local resistance group mostly composed of local Jews. Their high level of participation should be seen as a reaction to measures by the Vichy government, which disenfranchised the Jewish community …
Date: 2023-10-24


(2,016 words)

Author(s): Alroey, Gur
Aliyah (Hebr. pl. aliyot) has the basic meaning of “ascent.” Already in biblical times, the term refers to migration to the Land of Israel, alluding to its elevated position. Biblical commentators ascribe spiritual significance to the term in that they equate the process of ascent with arrival in the Holy Land. The Zionist movement picked up the religious connotation, transformed it into a secular political idea, and made aliyah a central component of the national consciousness.1. Theological significance and linguistic developmentThe Hebrew term  aliyah is used in biblic…
Date: 2023-10-24

Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums

(1,529 words)

Author(s): Nagel, Michael
In the history of the German Jewish press (Press), the  Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums (AZJ) holds a preeminent position. From 1837 through 1922, it appeared in uninterrupted sequence. It was the first and, until the end of the 19th century, the only current-affairs political-cultural newspaper presenting Jewish interests in Germany. Its success was due primarily to the journalistic abilities and political-organizational skills of its founder and long-time editor, the Magdeburg rabbi Ludwig Philippson (1811–1889).1. The AZJ as institutionAccording to its stated goal…
Date: 2023-10-24

Alliance israélite universelle

(4,954 words)

Author(s): Wilke, Carsten L.
“Jewish World Federation,” founded in Paris in 1860 with the goal of globalizing the Jewish emancipation process begun in Paris. Before the First World War, the Alliance israélite universelle (AIU) was represented in almost all countries with Jewish populations. The highest level of membership by percentage was achieved in France and Italy; in absolute numbers, Germany contained by far the most members. The Alliance pursued a strategy of legal and cultural “amelioration” ( régénération) of disadvantaged Jews in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and in the Middle Ea…
Date: 2023-10-24


(3,193 words)

Author(s): Kaplan, Eran
The name Altalena is generally associated with a ship used in 1948 by the Jewish underground paramilitary organization Irgun to bring troops and weapons from Europe to Israel. The ship was shot and sunk by the Israeli army in front of Tel Aviv. It was named for the pseudonym of Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1880–1940), leader of the revisionist movement and founder of the Betar Youth Organization. Jabotinsky was also an author and translator who made an important contribution to establishing the can…
Date: 2023-10-24


(1,738 words)

Author(s): Moyn, Samuel
The term alterity (Fr.  altérité, otherness) is meant to articulate the philosophical demand that every person, in his unique specificity, merits ethical consideration. Although the problem had existed long before, the French Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995) gave it the most decisive emphasis and contributed to its dissemination. According to him, Western philosophy had succumbed to the temptation of reducing “the other to the same.” By mediating between theology of the interwar perio…
Date: 2023-10-24


(6,258 words)

Author(s): Levinson, Julian
The American Jewish experience has been reflected and interpreted in manifold ways through American Jewish literature. Written in English, Yiddish, and also, in a small but significant part, in Hebrew, this literature is a reliable guide to the dramatic transformations of Jewish life in American society. Some Jewish authors praised America, enchanted by its freedoms, and recommended it with near-messianic rhetoric as the solution to the problems of European Jewish communities. Others criticized …
Date: 2023-10-24

American Civil War

(3,437 words)

Author(s): Sarna, Jonathan D. | Ristau, Daniel
In the American Civil War (1861–1865) between the Union and the Confederates, there were Jewish soldiers among the ranks. Many of them had patriotic motivations or saw joining the military as a means of social integration. However, during the American Civil War, the Jews were also exposed to heightened anti-Jewish hostility, which they countered with open campaigns. The war solidified the regional difference between Jews in the United States. After 1865, in the South they were increasing…
Date: 2023-10-24

American Jewish Committee

(3,312 words)

Author(s): Engel, David
The American Jewish Committee (AJC), established in New York in 1906, was dedicated to the global protection of civil and religious rights of the Jews. Its founders’ priority was to develop strategies against the discrimination and persecution of Jews in Eastern Europe. Unlike the American Jewish Congress formed at the end of the First World War, which also represented national-cultural and Zionist aspirations, the leadership of the AJC maintained a strict focus on civil and constitutional rights during the years between the wars.1. Establishment and programFive years after i…
Date: 2023-10-24

American Jewish Congress

(2,993 words)

Author(s): Engel, David
The American Jewish Congress met for the first time in December 1918 in Philadelphia, with the goal of sending an American-Jewish delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, in order to speak up for the civic and political status of Jews in continental Europe. A permanently established congress with the same name was constituted in Philadelphia in 1922. Whereas the American Jewish Committee (AJC) participated in the first congress, it took no part in the work of the permanent congress. From the 19…
Date: 2023-10-24

American Jewish Historical Society

(832 words)

Author(s): Ariel, Yaakov
A learned society founded in New York City in 1892. The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) combined with its scientific orientation a concern for highlighting the positive contributions of American Jews to the development of the United States. Because of its anti-discriminatory agenda, it provided stimuli for the foundation of the American Jewish Committee. In the 20th century, the AJHS was faced by the challenge of modernizing its work. Its main concern now became the integration of Jewish-American themes within the general history of America.The AJHS consolidated the…
Date: 2023-10-24

Angelus Novus

(4,160 words)

Author(s): Weigel, Sigrid
The title of one of many representations of angels by Paul Klee, an oil-transfer drawing with watercolor from 1920, which Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) acquired in June 1921. It became known through the latter’s conceptual image of the “Angel of History” in his last text Über den Begriff der Geschichte (“On the Concept of History,” 2006), which develops an epistemological critique of the concept of progress of historicism and historical materialism. The dialectical image of the “Angel of History” contains a condensation of Benjamin’s refle…
Date: 2023-10-24

Anglo-Jewish Association

(1,210 words)

Author(s): Levene, Mark
Like the Paris-based Alliance israélite universelle (AIU), the Anglo-Jewish-Association (AJA), founded in London in 1871, stood for a kind of  mission civilisatrice. Their founders saw themselves as part of that Western and especially British elite which understood European world politics and expansion as the framework for global progress and economic prosperity. The AJA considered its primary task to be the improvement of the legal situation of harassed Jews in eastern Europe, as well as the promotion of in…
Date: 2023-10-24
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