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


(3,588 words)

Author(s): Hasan-Rokem, Galit | Schrire, Dani
At the turn of the 20th century, European Jews grew increasingly interested in their own folklore sparked by changes to the lived experience, values, and norms of Jewish societies. In Central and Eastern Europe prior to 1938, Jewish ethnology sought both to educate the surrounding Christian community and carry out cultural activities in their own ranks. This activity was located outside of recognized academic establishment and included diverse subjects and approaches. Although it was ne…
Date: 2018-11-16

Folk Music

(1,848 words)

Author(s): Gur, Golan
In contrast to music from the synagogue, Jewish folk music is a secular genre, encompassing vocal and instrumental music and tied in with the daily life of Jews. Like folk music of non-Jewish communities, and in contrast to the music of the bourgeois concert hall, it is considered a historical tradition of peasants and workers. Around the end of the 19th century Jewish scholars discovered folk music of Jews living in rural areas of Eastern Europe as a medium for the expression of national belonging.The concept of Jewish folk music first took shape in the late 19th century [7…
Date: 2018-11-16

Forced Labor

(3,075 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Jens-Christian | Wille, Susan
As a mass phenomenon, Jewish forced labor under the Nazis was initially of relatively minor significance. National socialist policy regarding Jews was at first targeted towards forced emigration, then ghettoization, finally aspiring to the “Final Solution” of exterminating European Jews after the invasion of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, from 1938 onwards Jews were subjected to forced labor. While the death of other groups of prisoners, such as Soviet prisoners of war and civilians, as a resul…
Date: 2018-11-16


(892 words)

Author(s): Levinson, Julian
With a circulation of more than a quarter of a million copies, at the end of the 1920s  Forverts was the largest and most influential Yiddish daily newspaper in the world. Its moderate socialist standpoint was impressed upon the thoughts and ideals of generations of Jewish immigrants to the United States. Its success was largely thanks to the work of the American journalist Abraham Cahan (1860-1951). Cahan promoted numerous young Yiddish writers, making  Forverts a forum for modern Yiddish literature. Initially financially supported by the American Socialist Workers Party…
Date: 2018-11-16

Four-Year Sejm

(1,627 words)

Author(s): Bartal, Israel
From 1788 to 1792 the parliament of nobles of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth met continuously in Warsaw, in order to enact fundamental political and economic reform. Known as the Four-Year Sejm (Pol.; Sejm Czteroletni) or the Great Sejm (Pol.; Sejm Wielki), the congress adopted the first modern constitution in Europe on May 3, 1791. Although the legal status of Jews played a rather minor role in the sessions, and was not affected by the constitution, nevertheless the Four-Year Sejm constitutes a cesura in the history of Jews in…
Date: 2018-11-16

Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial

(3,585 words)

Author(s): Knellessen, Dagi
Trial before the jury court of Frankfurt am Main conducted between 1963 and 1965 against the SS staff at Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. The public proceedings led to a social and political turning point in the Federal Republic concerning the handling of the National Socialist past and the perception of the Holocaust. The testimony given by more than 200 victim witnesses who were predominantly of Jewish origin were decisive in the proceedings of the trial, its external impact, and in its reception history.1. SubjectDuring the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial whi…
Date: 2018-11-16


(2,494 words)

Author(s): Maciejko, Pawel
In the second half of the 18th century, a heterodox Jewish movement arose in East Central Europe, whose founder Jakob (Jakub) ben Jehuda Leib Frank (1726-1791) was originally a follower of Sabbatianism, which originated with Sabbatai Zevi (Smyrna). In the 1760s, the members of the Frankist sect split off from the Sabbatian movement and founded a separate religious group that was characterized by syncretistic ideas and rites of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian provenance. After the convers…
Date: 2018-11-16

Frank Ruehl Font

(768 words)

Author(s): Tamari, Ittai J.
In 1908 the Leipzig typefoundry CF Ruehl presented a new Hebrew typeface to the world. As a result of its up to date typographical design, the Frank Ruehl font rapidly found use throughout contemporary Hebrew printing, and remains the most widely used Hebrew font. At the beginning of the 20th century, at the request of two Protestant theologians at the University of Leipzig who were studying a Hebrew edition of the Old Testament, Rafael Frank (1867-1920), a cantor and teacher at the Israelitische Religionsgemeinde Leipzig (Leipzig Israeli…
Date: 2018-11-16

Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus

(1,209 words)

Author(s): Mendes-Flohr, Paul
The designation Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus (Free Jewish House of Study) was used by Franz Rosenzweig ([The] Star of Redemption) to label his conception of a Jewish adult education center. The expression alludes to the  bet ha-midrash, the (usually affiliated with a synagogue)  Lehrhaus (house of study), in which learners gather to study Midrashim – interpretative commentaries on the Torah, the doctrine revealed by God. For Rosenzweig,  Lernen was not synonymous with study in the sense of academic secular knowledge; it was rather a communion, a religious act th…
Date: 2018-11-16

Freimann Collection

(1,455 words)

Author(s): Heuberger, Rachel
Until 1933, the Judaica and Hebraica collections of the Frankfurt University library, with around 40,000 volumes of Hebrew and non-Hebrew works, constituted the most important special collection on the European continent. The historic collection is named after Aron Freimann (1871-1948), the preeminent Judaica and Hebraica bibliographer of his time, who also composed the weighty catalog for this collection. The inventory aroused the interest of the Nazis and provided the occasion for the…
Date: 2018-11-16


(4,541 words)

Author(s): Sadowski, Dirk
The first secular-oriented Jewish school in Berlin (1778-1825) was pioneering for modern, institutionalized Jewish education. This had its origin in the late 18th century in Central Europe, and followed two paths: in Germany, the first pedagogical projects and school foundations were mostly initiated by representatives of the Jewish Enlightenment. Conversely, in the Habsburg Empire, the state drove the establishment of secular Jewish schools. While the coercion-based Josephine school system rema…
Date: 2018-11-24

French Revolution

(3,264 words)

Author(s): Birnbaum, Pierre
The French Revolution was one of the great moments in the history of the emancipation of the Jews. It represents the entry of Jews into the public space and their inclusion in political modernity. While American Jewry, despite the extraordinary liberalism of the American Constitution (Bill of Rights), only slowly entered the public sphere because the federal states still imposed restrictions on them for a long time, the emancipation decree of September 1791 made French Jews equal citize…
Date: 2018-11-16

Fundamental Line

(1,853 words)

Author(s): Karnes, Kevin C.
After the First World War, the Viennese musical theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935) postulated an imaginary melody line, which he termed the "fundamental line" ( Urlinie), as the basic substance of tonal music. Schenker's fundamental line theory is the expression of a cultural conservatism, which was associated with the belief in the superiority of monarchy and German culture. During National Socialism, the reception of his ideas was suppressed. Many of his adepts were of Jewish origin and fled before the National S…
Date: 2018-11-24


(1,867 words)

Author(s): Culiner, Jill
The thousands of Jewish men and women who, between 1899 and 1907, organized themselves into groups to emigrate from Romania on foot came to be known as fusgeyer (Yidd.; “walkers,” “wanderers”). The fusgeyer enjoyed great admiration in the country and aroused the interest of the foreign press, which brought the suffering of the Romanian Jews to the attention of international public opinion. Historically speaking, this comprised the most spectacular moment of Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe around the turn of the century. 1. Legal and social situationIt is estimated that fro…
Date: 2018-11-16