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Glorious, Accursed Europe

Jehuda Reinharz

Publication Year: 2010

This volume offers a fascinating look at the complex relationship between Jews and Europe during the past two hundred years, and how the European Jewish and non-Jewish intelligentsia interpreted the modern Jewish experience, primarily in Germany, Russia, and Central and Eastern Europe. Beginning with premodern European attitudes toward Jews, Reinharz and Shavit move quickly to "the glorious nineteenth century," a period in which Jewish dreams of true assimilation came up against modern antisemitism. Later chapters explore the fin-de-siecle "crisis of modernity"; the myth of the modern European Jew; expectations and fears in the interwar period; differences between European nations in their attitude toward Jews; the views of Zionists and early settlers of Palestine and Israel toward the Europe left behind; and views of contemporary Israeli intellectuals toward Europe, including its new Muslim population--the latest incarnation of the Jewish Question in Europe.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-10

This is not a book about Europe, nor is it about the history of the Jews in Europe.1 Instead, its aim is to describe some aspects of the complex relationship between Jews and Europe during the past two hundred years.2 Several chapters deal with Jews’ attempts to understand the essence of...

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1. Europe Discovers Itself, Jews Discover Europe

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pp. 11-22

For hundreds of years, the word “Europe” denoted a geographical location whose borders were not precisely defined; it did not appear to describe a specific, well-defined human or social entity. Jews who read Greek encountered the word...

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2. The Glorious Nineteenth Century—Europe as Promised Land

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pp. 23-41

Jews were not alone, of course, in appraising the nineteenth century and placing it on the scales for judgment. Once the century had ended, it was possible to reflect and draw conclusions. Some Jews extolled the century, while others regarded it with disappointment...

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3. The Accursed Century—Europe as an Ailing Culture

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pp. 42-53

In Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky’s protagonist discovers that civilization neither tames mankind nor makes men less violent or thirsty for war. In “our unhappy nineteenth century,” he declares, “blood is being spilt in streams . . . as though...

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4. The Emergence of the Modern European Jew

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pp. 54-85

The nineteenth century in Europe was called, among other things, the Judenjahrhundert—the Jewish century. Nietzsche offered one explanation for this label in The Dawn of Day, describing Jews’ prominence in all...

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5. Antisemitism as an Incurable European Disease

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pp. 86-99

Europe’s fate and the swing of the pendulum between enlightenment, tolerance, and progress on the one hand, and decline, degeneration, and cruelty on the other hand, deeply preoccupied the Jewish intelligentsia. However, they were at least as preoccupied with the question of what the...

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6. Old Europe or New Europe?

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pp. 100-120

In his novel Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The man without attributes),2 the Austrian writer Robert Musil wrote that at the beginning of the twentieth century—that magical date—some Jews clung to the old, while others pinned their hopes on the new...

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7. Manifold Europes

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pp. 121-133

Winchevsky’s words echo a widespread motif in European culture: the categorization of Europe’s various cultures according to seemingly inherent fundamental traits that determined their unique identities and differentiated among them. One of many examples is the variety of stereotypes...

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8. I Am in the East, and My Heart Is in the West

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pp. 134-153

On April 26, 1896, Herzl wrote to the Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden: “If it is God’s will that we return to our historic fatherland, we should like to do so as representatives of Western civilization, and bring cleanliness, order, and the well-distilled customs...

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9. Europeanness and Anti-Europeanness in Palestine

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pp. 154-178

Culture is, among other things, the set of normative values a society holds. Thus it is important to point out, at the outset of this chapter, that what follows constitutes no sort of value judgment on the contents ascribed to any particular cultural system...

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10. Europe, Old or New?

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pp. 179-191

Europe on the Brink was the name of a special program aired on Kol Israel’s Reshet Bet radio channel on February 2 and March 3, 2004. According to the program, Europe stood on the brink of “antisemitism, Islamic terror, incitement against the State of Israel...

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Conclusion: Between Real Europe and the European Spirit

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pp. 192-196

Is it possible to write a single history of the Jews in Europe—a Jewish history? Or is it possible to write several histories of the Jews in Europe—a history of Jewish communities interwoven with the histories of various nations?1 The answer is that both are possible...


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pp. 197-251


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pp. 253-290


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pp. 291-301

E-ISBN-13: 9781584659136
E-ISBN-10: 1584659130
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584658436

Page Count: 316
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Europe -- History -- 19th century.
  • Jews -- Europe -- History -- 20th century.
  • Jews -- Europe -- Identity.
  • Europe -- Civilization -- 19th century.
  • Europe -- Civilization -- 20th century.
  • Israelis.
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