Challenges of Equality
Judaism, State, and Education in Nineteenth-Century France
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Wayne State University Press
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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This book began with a basic question: How did French anticlerical legislation affect French Jews during the first half of the Third Republic (roughly 1875–1906)? Searching for the answer led me to focus on education, which was one of the main targets of anticlerical activity. My research into schools took me to France, where I combed the holdings of the Archives Nationales, ...
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On January 4, 1812, Félix-Julien-Jean Bigot de Préameneu wrote a letter. In his capacity as Napoleon Bonaparte’s Minister of Religions, he wrote many letters, but this one must have seemed a particular chore. For more than three years, the leaders of the Jewish Consistory—the officially recognized administrative structure charged with integrating French Jews and ...
PART I: JEWISH PRIMARY EDUCATION AND THE STATE, 1808–1870
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Like France itself, French Jewry hardly constituted a cohesive, unified entity by the 1790s, or even by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Conceptions of the relationship between being Jewish and being French in the aftermath of the Revolution were equally diverse. As some scholars have suggested, French Jews repeatedly adapted their sense of themselves in response to changing political, intellectual, social, and economic forces.1 ...
2. Roadblocks to Regeneration
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In January 1832, Louis Cottard sent a passionate letter to the Minister of Education on behalf of the Jewish schools within his jurisdiction. As Rector of the Academy of Strasbourg, Cottard was the top educational official in the district and hoped to win government financial support for Jewish schooling. Cottard brought to his work a strong belief in the moral value ...
3. Redefinition and Consolidation
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On March 2, 1869, the leaders of the Jewish Consistory in Strasbourg sent a report to the Central Consistory in Paris detailing the state of Jewish education within their jurisdiction. At first glance, the report glowed with satisfaction. The Strasbourg leadership pointed proudly to strong Jewish participation in the educational system. In all, 2,671 Jewish students ...
PART II: RABBINICAL EDUCATION AND THE STATE, 1808–1906
4. How Much Latin Should a Rabbi Know?
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In September 1864, the Bordeaux Consistory installed Simon L�vy as its chief rabbi (grand rabbin). The public ceremony took place with appropriate degrees of pomp and solemnity. At precisely 2:15 in the afternoon, L�vy entered the sanctuary of the synagogue on the rue Causserouge. Garbed in his rabbinical vestments, he strode in at the end of a lengthy cort�ge comprised ...
5. A Tale of Two Cities: From Metz to Paris
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While the consistorial leadership worked to assure that all Jews in France became cultured isra�lites, the best integration strategy remained a point of contention. French Jewish leaders not only disagreed with government definitions of Judaism; they actively (albeit subtly) sought to tailor them to suit their own conceptions. The process that Ronald Schechter has identified in ...
PART III: TOWARD SEPARATION, 1875–1906
6. Challenges of Equality: Financial Anticlericalism
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In 1884 a Parisian Jew named Adolphe Beyfus died, bequeathing gifts to different Jewish institutions in the capital. Among his legacies, Beyfus left a bed in the Jewish hospital, 6,000f for the Jewish charity board (comit� de bienfaisance), and a lump sum of 1,000f for the Parisian consistorial schools. He also willed his personal library and music collection to the Jewish vocational ...
7. Jewish Education and Jewish Space
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In the autumn of 1903, the Baroness de Rothschild offered to pay for the expansion of the Paris Consistory’s Jewish education courses. Classes would move to more convenient locales; new classes would begin where necessary, and supervision of the lessons would become more systematic.1 The consistorial leaders agreed, and in January 1904 the Baroness covered the cost of moving the classes held in Montmartre from the rue Nicolet to a larger ...
8. “Just Proportions”: Financial Anticlericalism and Rabbinical Space
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In September 1879, the administrative commission of the Séminaire Israélite sent a report to the Paris Consistory describing a general deterioration of the school’s academic program. Many of the problems, they wrote, resulted from circumstances beyond their control. The loss of Alsace and Lorraine in 1871, for example, had cut the school off from its main recruiting ground.1 ...
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This book has argued that Jewish integration in nineteenth-century France involved more than questions of assimilation. Throughout the century, consistorial leaders felt considerable pressure to conform to the standards of individual French regimes; these pressures became all the more acute as the consistorial education system increasingly depended upon civil authorities ...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2009
Volume Title: N/a
Series Title: Non-series