Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Dan Diner

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

Collegio Rabbinico

(2,336 words)

Author(s): Miletto, Gianfranco
The first modern rabbinical seminary was founded in 1829 in Padua on the initiative of the Austrian government, under the trusteeship of the Jewish communities of the Lombardo-Venetian Kingdom. From the beginning, the Collegio Rabbinico had the status of a university; it educated rabbis who went on to work in many different European communities up until 1871. The Collegio Rabbinico significantly influenced the Wissenschaft des Judentums​, especially through personages like its co-founder Isaac Samuel Reggio and its lecturer Samuel David Luzzatto.1. Foundation historyA co…
Date: 2018-11-16


(2,192 words)

Author(s): Hutchinson, Peter
Title of a novel by the East-German author Stefan Heym (1913–2001). The book, which was published in West Germany in 1979, refers to a series of show trials, party expulsions, and chicanery that took place in the GDR of the 1950s, some of which had distinctly anti-Jewish undertones. Thus, the novel expresses a theme central to Heym’s work as a whole: the danger posed by Stalinism to the advancement of socialism. Collin stirred up significant political disaffection in the GDR and could not be published in the country in which it was authored.1. The novelThe plot centers around the ill…
Date: 2018-11-16


(3,881 words)

Author(s): Schenkolewski-Kroll, Silvia
Between the early 19th century and the middle of the 20th century a large number of Jewish agricultural colonies existed within the Russian Pale of Settlement and later in the Soviet Union, as well as outside of Europe. The transfer of Jewish settlers into rural regions was a measure which had the aim of changing their professional structure and also to provide an alternative to a life in areas where they were suffering from social and economic discrimination and depression. The financial underw…
Date: 2018-11-16

Color Field Painting

(2,423 words)

Author(s): Soltes, Ori Z.
A stylistic trend of Abstract Expressionism, which emerged in the United States after the Second World War. Its large-format and usually frameless pictures are characterized by the homogeneous use of formally modest colored surfaces. Most of the representatives of Color Field painting, primarily native to New York, were Jews like Barnett Newman (1905–1970), Mark Rothko (1903–1970), and Adolph Gottlieb (1903–1974). They concerned themselves, on the one hand, with the question of  what place their…
Date: 2018-11-16


(4,032 words)

Author(s): Isenschmid, Andreas
Combray is the setting for the first volume of Marcel Proust’s novel  À la recherche du temps perdu (“In Search of Lost Time,” 2004). Proust (1871–1922), the baptized Christian son of a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, endowed Combray and his novel with both Jewish and French-Catholic characteristics. Along with the life and love of an aspiring author during the heyday and decline of the aristocratic salon culture, he subtly narrates (but all the more decisively) the story of the historical fate of the Fren…
Date: 2018-11-16

Comité des délégations juives

(3,087 words)

Author(s): Graf, Philipp
Zionist/Jewish-nationalist-oriented union of Jewish organizations headquartered in Paris, established in the run-up to the Peace Conference of 1919 with the aim of advocating for Jewish rights in Eastern Europe. After the Allied and associated powers had imposed minority treaties and minority-protection clauses on the states that came into existence due to the disintegration of the multinational empires, the Comité was established, under the leadership of Leo Motzkin (1867–1933), as a point of c…
Date: 2018-11-16


(5,958 words)

Author(s): Adelman, Rachel
The commentary, as elaboration and interpretation of a fundamental text of Judaism, in particular of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), is the central medium of traditional Jewish literary activity. The history of the commentary begins with the earliest tendencies toward canonization in the 5th century BCE, when Ezra the Scribe first equated the "Law of God" with the Torah (Pentateuch), and it has continued into the present time with contributions from the fields of literary studies and historical criti…
Date: 2018-11-16

Commentary (Magazine)

(1,299 words)

Author(s): Zwarg, Robert
The magazine  Commentary, which has appeared in the United States since 1945,  represents an attempt to Americanize Jewish society while simultaneously maintaining a distinct Jewish tradition. Over the decades, it has reflected the changing political attitudes among American Jews. According to the vision of the first editor-in-chief, Elliot E. …
Date: 2018-11-16

Comparative Musicology

(3,207 words)

Author(s): Randhofer, Regina
A branch of musicology which researches the music of non-European cultures. The mastermind of comparative musicology, which formed in Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century, was Erich Moritz von Hornbostel (1877-1935). His departure from the exclusionist tendencies of the music research of his time prepared the ground for the new discipline. Hornbostel's understanding of music as an empirically accessible sociocultural phenomenon, his pluralistic, holistic approach, and his search …
Date: 2018-11-16

Comtat Venaissin

(2,095 words)

Author(s): Iancu, Carol
From the 13th century to the end of the 18th century, the Jews in the papal possession Comtat Venaissin enjoyed a comparatively privileged legal position. Spared from the persecutions that the Jews of the French crown lands experienced in the Middle Ages, based on their continuity of settlement and extensive communal autonomy, they were able to develop cultural and liturgical characteristics that were comparatively independent both from Ibero-Sephardic and from north-French-Ashkenazic Jewry.The historic county (Comtat) Venaissin, located in southeastern France bet…
Date: 2018-11-16

Concept of God

(3,304 words)

Author(s): Brumlik, Micha
For the German-Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen (1842-1918), the idea of God was an important theme throughout his life. In the concept, the two central reference points of his thinking, Kantian philosophy and Jewish religion, are intertwined. The idea of God as articulated by Kant, Kantianism, and Hermann Cohen is characterized by the fact that all metaphysical speculation is replaced by morality – an approach in which not a few Jews influenced by German culture recognized the deepest kinship between the voice from Sinai, known in the Jewish faith, and a philosophy based on reason. 1. I…
Date: 2018-11-16

Congress for Cultural Freedom

(3,441 words)

Author(s): Hacohen, Malachi H.
Transatlantic organization of the anticommunist intelligentsia during the peak of the Cold War. The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which existed from 1950 through 1967, aimed at countering postwar Soviet propaganda, exposing communism as totalitarianism, and promulgating pro-American liberal-democratic consensus in the West. Most of its members were liberal and socialist intellectuals, many of them of Jewish origin. In particular, these included emigrants from Central Europe who had belong…
Date: 2018-11-16

Congress of Berlin

(2,560 words)

Author(s): Kirchhoff, Markus
In 1878, as a consequence of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, the Congress of Berlin decided on territorial questions and the recognition of new states in Southeast Europe. The great event of European diplomacy was an occasion of Jewish initiatives to win over the gathered powers for the emancipation of Jews in the Balkans and especially in Romania. In fact, the Congress of Berlin predicated Romania's and Serbia's independence, as well as Bulgaria's autonomy on legal equality guaranteed to al…
Date: 2018-11-16

Congress of Vienna

(3,489 words)

Author(s): Kirchhoff, Markus
The Congress of Vienna in 1814/1815 is the first gathering in the history of modern states which specifically addressed the legal status of the Jews (Emancipation). This primarily concerned the German Confederation, newly founded in the course of the Congress. Its states retained their own regulations against the wishes of the leading representatives of the powers and were also allowed to withdraw rights previously granted to Jews under Napoleonic rule. In contrast, with the establishment of the…
Date: 2018-11-16

Conjoint Foreign Committee

(2,536 words)

Author(s): Levene, Mark
Committee founded in 1878 by British Jews that was concerned with representing Jewish interests in international politics. In the late 19th century, the Conjoint Foreign Committee made efforts to bring about legal equality for Jews in Eastern Europe in particular. Owing to its strictly anti-Zionist stance, in the run-up to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, it incurred the accusation within the British-Jewish elite of onesided and autocratic agitation and was obliged to temporarily suspend its wor…
Date: 2018-11-16

Conservative Judaism

(3,260 words)

Author(s): Ariel, Yaakov
The Conservative Judaism movement emerged in the last two decades of the 19th century in the United States and was intended as a traditionally oriented alternative to Reform Judaism. This conservative religious movement had its roots in mid-19th-century Germany. With its efforts to strike a balance between tradition and progress, Conservative Judaism exerted an ever-increasing power of attraction over the children and grandchildren of the Jewish immigrant generation. Over the course of the 20th …
Date: 2018-11-16


(4,490 words)

Author(s): Diner, Dan
Central motif in the modern ideology of antisemitism which explains world events as the result of alleged secretive machinations conducted by Jewish agents. The complex social realities of modernity, which are not well understood, are thus reduced to a conspiracy and projected onto Jews. The idea of an all-controlling conspiracy at work behind the scenes can generally be observed where traditional forms of communal organization are impacted by accelerating developments that are felt to be intole…
Date: 2018-11-16


(2,774 words)

Author(s): Endelman, Todd M.
In the modern era, conversion from Judaism to Christianity occurred less from religious conviction than for social reasons. It sprang from the desire for access to areas from which Jews were excluded because of legal requirements or certain traditions. Because conversions were mostly made from such secular motivations, they always reflect the legal status of the Jews, their social position, their aspirations, and their expectations of the future. 1. Emancipation and EnlightenmentDespite the spread of the Enlightenment ideas of tolerance, the decline of the ancien r…
Date: 2018-11-16


(2,504 words)

Author(s): Graizbord, David
In the late Middle Ages and early modern era, Jews in Spain and Portugal were repeatedly forcibly converted to Christianity. These Conversos and their descendants, in their own self-perception and that of others, constituted a unique ethnic-religious group. From the beginning of the 16th century on, they began to emigrate into European and overseas trade centers to escape social discrimination and persecution by the Inquisition. In their new homes, the majority reverted to Judaism. The Conversos…
Date: 2018-11-16

Copper House

(1,480 words)

Author(s): von Borries, Friedrich | Fischer, Jens-Uwe
The copper house is a prefabricated house system of the Hirsch Copper and Brass Works, developed in the final stages of the Weimar Republic. The external facade and the roof of the prefabricated houses are made of copper. In 1931/1932, the architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969) was also involved in this project. After the insolvency of the works in 1932 the distribution of the newly founded German Copper House Company continued, but was discontinued again 1934. In total, up to 100 copper …
Date: 2018-11-16
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