The Secularization of Relations between Jews and Non-Jews: An Introduction


additional instances of Jews , both men and women , who participated in Berlin’s intellectual life . While Mendelssohn remained steadfastly loyal to the faith of his forefathers and lived his life in accordance with Jewish law , some maskilim abandoned this tradition , and there were those who felt obligated to convert . Since new opportunities had never been easily available to the Jews , and since Jews found themselves , time and again , halted in their climb of the social ladder , some fell prey to despair and abandoned their Judaism . Baptism appeared to them , as Heine wrote , as the “ European entry ticket . ” In order , however , to attain their goal , Jews also employed less radical tactics . Some sought ways to introduce reforms in their own religious rite , to change some passages in the texts of their prayer book and to adopt religious and general practices similar to those of their environment . The Reform movement , in all its variants , was unquestionably part of this general effort to move closer to the external culture without surrendering Judaism . Some branches of this movement were more extreme and others – less so . Even Neo-Orthodoxy , which combined religious observance with the surrounding high culture , can be viewed as one of its branches . Others desired to focus on what they began to call “ Wissenschaft des Judentums ” ( the Science of Judaism ) , that combined the research of Jewish thought and history with the study of Hebrew poetry . In the second half of the nineteenth century , many preferred far-reaching secularization , and became indifferent to religion , from which they gradually distanced themselves , even if they did not totally abandon their Jewish identity . In the final analysis , all these facilitated contact with non-Jews and strengthened the integrative processes . Beyond the purview of the state and its laws , non-Jewish society did not relate uniformly to the Jews , and the good will of Jews and non-Jews was dependent on an assortment of general and local factors . As regards , for instance , the question of Jewish membership in the various cultural associations of bourgeois society , different answers were given , in accordance with the time , place , and nature of the associations . Generally speaking , the social attitude regarding the inclusion of Jews was more positive in those regions and periods in which a more liberal political atmosphere reigned . When liberalism was weak , as in the late 1870 s , the doors were once again shut to Jews . The associations and organizations prevented their entry , either temporarily or permanently ; the street became more hostile ; existing ties became tenser and more sensitive . The waves of open anti-Semitism with which the Jews had to contend then were especially harsh . Parties with platforms containing blatantly anti-Semitic sections arose in Germany in the late 1870 s . Anti-Semitic organizations flourished in France , as well , during the years of struggle surrounding the Dreyfus trial . From time to time the positions of conservative parties everywhere spilled over into overt anti-Semitism , to various extents ; in Germany - hesitantly , in Russia - tempestuously . The left , too , did not always remain opposed to anti-Semitism : Jews who owed their success to the financial and industrial innovations of modernization were regarded by generations of socialists as the unmistakable representatives of the new untrammeled capitalism . Already in his famous 1844 essay , “ On the Jewish Question , ” Karl Marx identified the Jews as the standard bearers of this exploitative system . Vile anti-Semitic pronouncements were voiced by Proudhon in France , Bakunin in Russia , and other lesser-known individuals throughout Europe . Lassalle , himself a Jew , devoted himself to attacking the Jewish intellectuals who supported the system : journalists , writers , and former friends who chose another path . While the German Social Democratic Party usually opposed anti-Semitism , it , too , was unable to weed out all its manifestations from among its ranks . The various socialist factions in France hesitated for quite some time before at least some decided to openly and vigorously support the struggle to clear

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