Encyclopedia of Jewish History and Culture Online

Get access Subject: Jewish Studies

Editor-in-Chief: Dan Diner

Help us improve our service

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


(3,923 words)

Author(s): Kilcher, Andreas
Kabbalah (Hebr.  kabbala, literally “reception,” understood as the adoption or transmission of an esoteric tradition) is the most important form of Jewish mysticism. From its origins in the Middle Ages, it has undergone manifold transformations and interpretations within Judaism – and since the early modern era increasingly from the outside. Although it was exemplary as a Jewish-philosophical paradigm within humanism, the representatives of the Haskalah and even more of the Wissenschaft des Judent…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,000 words)

Author(s): Lehnardt, Andreas
A Kaddish prayer is a short prayer in Hebrew and Aramaic, which has been transmitted in various versions. Besides doxological formulas, it mainly contains petitions for the sanctification of the name of God, the coming of God’s kingdom, and peace. As a prayer commemorating the deceased, it is today considered the prayer for the dead par excellence. 1. BeginningsForm-critical analysis of the text shows that the Kaddish (Aram., literally “holy”) was originally a matter of a short doxology, that is, praise of the glory of God, spoken after studying the ho…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,250 words)

Author(s): Wagner, Thomas
In the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), the Hebrew word kadosh is used primarily as an attribute of God and occasionally also as a name for God. As a result, the holiness of God is also transferred to the site of his presence as well as the people chosen by him, whose holiness is not, however, an ontological quality of the people of Israel, but must be acquired through its religious-ethical behavior, including the normative temple cult. In the rabbinical literature of antiquity and the Middle Ages, the concept of…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,539 words)

Author(s): Bartal, Israel
Already in the Bible, the Hebrew word kahal refers to a gathering in general or to an assembly of Israelites specifically. In the Middle Ages and early modern period, in the Diaspora communities in Ashkenaz it served to denote the administration and council of the community, as well as the Jewish community itself. Generally speaking, the kahal was the leading institution of the kehillah, the community. As such a body of Jewish self-government, the kahal was integrated into the political, legal, and social systems of the European system of estates. With the …
Date: 2020-05-12


(943 words)

Author(s): Schölzel, Christian
Denotation for entrepreneurs and bankers of Jewish origin, who had direct access to the emperor in late Wilhelmine Germany. The disrespectfully intended term “Kaiserjuden,” only later used by the Jewish side, expressed the view that they had allied themselves with the German ruler. However, it was mostly Emperor Wilhelm II himself who sought their company, in which he enjoyed a certain cosmopolitanism of entertainment, knowledge, and advice, such as he could not otherwise encounter in h…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,383 words)

Author(s): Musall, Frederek
Kalām (Arab.; literally “word,” “utterance,” “speech”) denotes a theological system in Islam, in which the question of the relationship between revelation and reason is central. It developed in the early expansion phase of Islam through cultural contact with non-Muslim transmitters of ancient philosophy and sciences. In the 9th and 10th centuries, kalām influenced the theological thought of Jews in Islamic dominions. Kalām gained lasting popularity among the Karaites in particular; by contrast, its reception in Rabbanite circles virtually came to a stan…
Date: 2020-05-12

Kaminski Theatre

(2,152 words)

Author(s): Bułat, Mirosława M.
The Kaminskis were a Polish-Yiddish theatre dynasty whose members made a name for themselves as entrepreneurs, actors, theatre producers, and directors. The artistic and organizational activities of the Kaminskis – in particular, of Avrom-Yitskhok (1867–1918), his wife Ester-Rokhl (1870–1925), and their daughter Ida (1899–1980) – extend from the early days of professional Yiddish theatre in the 1880s to the era of the Communist regime in Eastern Europe. The longevity of this dynasty can…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,748 words)

Author(s): Akhiezer, Golda
The Karaite community differs markedly in its religious practices and everyday customs from those of normative Judaism, but is nonetheless part of Judaism according to the Jewish view. In the 19th century, the Karaites in Eastern Europe developed a new self-understanding, under a variety of influences: modernization, the emergence of Russian and Jewish nationalism, the upsurge in Russian historical scholarship, and finally the influence of Haskalah and the Wissenschaft des Judentums. 1. Beginnings in Eastern EuropeIn the middle of the 8th century, various groups who ag…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,959 words)

Author(s): Lavi, Shai
Framework of rules and actions that ensures the ritual purity of food. As part of Halakhah, the dietary laws originally served as a sign of belonging to the Jewish community. In the era of emancipation they were increasingly called into question because they hampered social contact. From the end of the 18th century, questions about the origin and meaning of the kashrut, increasingly the subject of modern scientific interpretations, also intensified. The dietary laws remain binding today in Orthodox Judaism. 1. Origin, validity, and practice Kashrut (from Hebrew kasher, ritually sui…
Date: 2020-05-12

Kasztner Affair

(3,500 words)

Author(s): Löb, Ladislaus
A political affair in Israel in the early 1950s, which was ignited by a spectacular rescue mission in Hungary during the Holocaust. Shortly before the end of the Second World War approximately 1,670 Jewish men, women, and children were brought to Switzerland out of Hungary via the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Their liberation had been arranged by the Hungarian-Jewish lawyer, journalist, and Zionist activist Rudolf Kasztner (1906–1957) with the organizer of the mass extermination, A…
Date: 2020-05-12


(1,743 words)

Author(s): Szeintuch, Yechiel
“Ka-Tsetnik 135633” is the pseudonym of Yehiel De-Nur (also Dinur; 1909–2001; born Yehiel Feiner, also known as Karl Zetinski), an equally famous and oddly obscure author of Yiddish- and Hebrew-language Holocaust novels. His books have been translated into numerous languages, and much interest has been shown in his literary legacy. And yet he remains, even for his readers, a puzzle. Undoubtedly the most dramatic moment of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem was the testimony of Yehiel De-Nur on June 7, 1961, that was abruptly interrupted by the fainting of t…
Date: 2020-05-12