Abstract

This article uses Moshe Schneerson’s 1820 conversion to Catholicism and subsequent attempt to convert to Russian Orthodoxy as a frame for the multiconfessional political and social backdrop of conversions from Judaism in imperial Russia. Though the Russian Empire legally promoted Russian Orthodoxy as the “preeminent and predominant” imperial religion, it granted religious toleration and institutional support to a host of non-Orthodox confessions in whose churches Jews could be baptized. I trace the genesis of confessional choice for Jews, the problem of serial baptisms, and the social and cultural contacts that enabled converts to move between confessional communities, arguing that the study of religious conversion in modern Jewish history needs to be analyzed as a social encounter with the peoples and institutions of neighboring confessional communities rather than just an impersonal, strategic move to gain entrée to “mainstream European society.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2028
Print ISSN
0021-6704
Pages
pp. 1-31
Launched on MUSE
2014-11-21
Open Access
No
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