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

Kohelet Musar

(1,298 words)

Author(s): Pelli, Moshe
Hebrew periodical, compiled and published by Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786; Bi’ur) and his friend Tuvia (possibly Tuvia Bock) around 1755 in Germany. In its efforts to establish a connection between the Enlightenment and Judaism,  Kohelet Musar (preacher of morals) reflects the literary and philosophical currents of the time and anticipates the Haskalah. Above all, it attests to a growing desire to revitalize the Hebrew language and its literature and to pave the way for a moderate model of Enlightenment. For a long time  Kohelet Musar was widely unknown, and at first gl…
Date: 2020-05-12

Kol Nidre

(1,628 words)

Author(s): Marsha Bryan Edelman
The prayer formula Kol Nidre (Aram.  kol nidre, “all vows”) contains the annulment of vows. Since the Middle Ages its recitation has introduced the day of atonement Yom Kippur in Ashkenazic congregations. Due to the danger of misinterpretation as a general release from obligations the Kol Nidre was an object of internal Jewish criticism and served as a welcome exhibition for antisemites. Due to its incisive melody it has been the subject of numerous modern musical settings. 1. Origins and historyUnder Jewish law (Halakhah) it is forbidden to make rash promises. As a rule an…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,237 words)

Author(s): Koenen, Gerd
As a democratic-centralist organized “world party,” the Communist International (Komintern), founded in Moscow in 1919, was a historically unique undertaking. Nevertheless it was always subordinate to the imperatives of Soviet policies. The role played by Jewish Communists in the Komintern, though formative and prominent at first, was transitory on the whole. Among the motivations for their participation were the incentive to flee from the peculiarities of Jewish existence or from Judai…
Date: 2020-05-12

Kosher Nostra

(2,262 words)

Author(s): Rockaway, Robert
Derisive term for criminal Jewish associations in the United States.  Kosher Nostra alludes to the Italian-American mafia, which had come to be known as  Cosa Nostra (“our thing”). Smaller numbers of Jewish gangsters and gangs had established themselves in the Jewish districts of large American cities before the First World War. Numerous Jewish criminals were particularly attracted by the lucrative new spheres of activity offered to organized crime as a result of Prohibition of 1920. As with gangsters from other sector…
Date: 2020-05-12

Kotso shel Yud

(1,949 words)

Author(s): Stanislawski, Michael
Kotso shel Yud (1875; “The tip of the [Hebrew letter]  Yud,” 2006), the best-known poem of Russian-Jewish poet Yehudah Leib Gordon, is a call for the liberation of Jewish women from religious-patriarchal oppression. Gordon (1831–1892) developed a new Hebrew style and significantly influenced the formation of the Hebrew novel. What is more, he was a prominent representative of the Jewish Enlightenment in Russia, which campaigned especially for religious equality for women and for the political-cultural integration of Russian Jews into gentile society. 1. Kotso shel YudGordon un…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,063 words)

Author(s): Matthäus, Jürgen
City in Lithuania (Rus., Lithuanian: Kaunas; Yidd.: Kovne), and the Lithuanian capital between the wars. In the Second World War the city was under German occupation (June 24, 1941 to July 31, 1944) and functioned as an administrative center from which the German army, security police, and SD (Einsatzgruppe A), as well as the civil administration from the end of July 1941, coordinated their policies of looting and extermination of the Jews in Lithuania. As early as summer 1941 – and the…
Date: 2020-05-12


(2,995 words)

Author(s): Rovit, Rebecca
The Kulturbund Deutscher Juden (Cultural Federation of German Jews) was founded in Berlin in June 1933 in order to help provide subsistence for Jewish artists and scholars who had lost their position because of the National Socialist racial legislation. At the same time, the organization – renamed as the Jüdischer Kulturbund (Jewish Cultural Federation) in 1935 – sought to offer German Jews a cultural home by providing an array of theatre performances, concerts, readings, and exhibition…
Date: 2020-05-12

Kunstwart Debate

(1,181 words)

Author(s): Voigts, Manfred
The essay Deutsch-jüdischer Parnaß by then-unknown Moritz Goldstein (1880–1977), which appeared in the cultural journal  Kunstwart in 1912, triggered a wide-ranging discussion of the situation of Jews in Germany. According to the central statement of the text: “We Jews manage the intellectual property of a people that denies us the authority and ability to do so.” The debate in Kunstwart was early evidence for the failure of Jewish assimilation and a clear indicator of the critical changes in the self-understanding of German Jews, especially in light…
Date: 2020-05-12


(3,185 words)

Author(s): Shear, Adam
Judah Halevi’s Sefer ha-Kuzari (Book of the Kuzari/Book of the Khazars; composed in Spain ca. 1140) is a large-scale outline and defense of rabbinic Judaism. The work was an iconic point of reference up until the modern era for Jews of the most diverse cultures, movements, and spiritual currents. In the Middle Ages and early modern era, the  Kuzari was simultaneously seen as an anti-rationalist, anti-philosophical text and as an attempt at harmonizing religion and philosophy. Due to the ideological polarization that took place within modern Jewish cultu…
Date: 2020-05-12