rss_2.0transversal FeedSciendo RSS Feed for transversal 's Cover Torrents in Modernity: German Jewish Philosophers and the Legacy of Secularization<p>This article investigates the ongoing interaction between the Jewish sacred past and its modern interpreters. Jewish thinkers from the eighteenth century reclaimed these ideals instead of dismissing them. Sacred traditions and modern secular thought existed in their mutual constitutive interdependence and not in opposition. When the optimism in historical progress and faith in reason unraveled in the fin de siècle, it engendered a new critical response by Jewish historians and philosophers of the twentieth century. These critical voices emerged within the fault lines of nineteenth and early twentieth century Jewish anti-historicist responses. What separated twentieth-century Jewish thinkers such as Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Gershom Scholem from their nineteenth-century forerunners was not their embrace of religion but their critical stance toward reason and their crumbling faith in historical progress.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-23T00:00:00.000+00:00The Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau and the Rabbinical College of Padua: A Comparison<p>The article deals with three points that refer to two important Jewish institutions of the age of emancipation, that is, the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau and the Rabbinical College of Padua: (1) how these Rabbinical schools were founded, (2) their courses and programs, and (3) the inspiration behind them. A comparison is outlined on the ground of these three points. The conclusion reminds the closing of these two schools, in 1938 the first and in 1871 the second, because of external events: the uprising of German antisemitism and the constitution of Italian State; and how the interesting figure of Sabato Morais, the founder in 1887 and first president of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, which prepares Conservative Rabbis, could in a sense be considered the heir of both these schools.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-23T00:00:00.000+00:00Jews, Jesus, and Menstrual Blood<p>This article examines how concepts related to menstruation and menstrual blood were used by medieval Jews to insult the Christians’ God and his mother. One of the central concepts used in these exchanges was the claim that Jesus was conceived while Mary was menstruating. The article checks this and similar claims when they appear, among other places, in polemic works, such as the rather famous <italic>Toledot Yeshu</italic> (“The Genealogy of Jesus”), and in the Jewish chronicles about the massacres of Rhineland Jews during the first crusade of 1096.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-23T00:00:00.000+00:00Introduction: The Jewish-Theological Seminary of Breslau, the ‘Science of Judaism’ and the Development of a Middle-of-the-Road Current in Religious Judaism Captivating Beauty of the Divine Spark—Breslau and the Reception of Yehuda Halevi’s (1877–1911)<p>The article follows the reception of the philosophy of Yehudah Halevi (1075–-1141) within the Breslau school of Jewish thought during the second half of the nineteenth century. Special focus is given to the discussion of Halevi in the writings of David Kaufmann and Julius Guttmann. Both scholars admire Halevi’s <italic>Sefer haKuzari</italic> because they discovered a certain analogy between his medieval project of an intellectual apology of Judaism and their own endeavors in Breslau to philosophically justify the existence of Judaism in modernity. In their point of view, Halevi has achieved his results, however, without forcing the wealth of traditional Jewish teachings into an artificial system of thought, as did Maimonides after him. Thus, Halevi became for the Breslau scholars a personal example of Jewish integrity, combining faithful adherence to Judaism with intellectual penetration of its doctrines.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-23T00:00:00.000+00:00Jewish Rhetorics and the Contemplation of a Diminished Future<p>Recent work by scholars such as Sylvie-Anne Goldberg and Elisheva Carlebach has paid close attention to the forms of temporality in traditional Jewish cultures, and classic twentieth-century studies debated the origin and character of various forms of Jewish Messianism as well as the genre of Jewish apocalypse. This essay considers the possible relevance of Jewish rhetorics of temporality to the most likely current scenario of the human future: a deterioration of both numbers and quality of life, with no inevitable extinction or redemption to be envisioned as a narrative end-point. The recent television series “Battlestar Galactica” is closely examined, both for its specifically Jewish tropes and more generally as a narrative modeling of a regressive sequence without inevitable resolution. Most broadly, this meditation in the form of a dialogue challenges scholars to address their analyses to the current situation of the species, and to do so in a way that does not rely on antiquated ideologies of progress and enlightenment.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-23T00:00:00.000+00:00Love Your Fellow As Yourself: Early Haskalah Reform As Pietist Renewal<p> This article demonstrates that Isaac Wetzlar’s Yiddish treatise Libes Briv (1748/49) substantially engages the concepts and initiatives encompassed by Pietist missionary efforts to Jews. As a calculated response to the challenge posed by Pietist missionaries and Christian critiques of Jewish life, the Love Letter should be read as a product of Jewish-Pietist interaction and entanglement. The article suggests that Wetzlar’s call for religious and social renewal competed with contemporaneous Christian Pietists over the preferable vision for eighteenthcentury Central European Jewry.</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00Isaac Wetzlar’s Pietist Surroundings. Some Reflections On Jewish–Christian Interaction And Exchange In 18Th Century Germany<p> Viewing Christian Pietism as an influential context for Isaac Wetzlar’s Libes briv raises some questions regarding the acquaintance of the Jewish author of this booklet with this religious movement of awakening. This article will give an answer to this question by illuminating the role Pietism and its ideas have played in the environment where Wetzlar lived, worked and wrote. Using new source material, I will show the many points of interaction Wetzlar has had with Pietism as well as his encounters with Pietists, which were the basis for the intellectual exchange which led him to write his Yiddish treatise.</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00Yiddish, The Language Of Love: Isaac Wetzlar’s Libes Briv (1748/49) In The Context Of Jewish–Pietist Encounter<p> This special section examines Isaac Wetzlar‘s Love Letter, a Yiddish proposal for the improvement of Jewish society, written in 1748/49 in Northern Germany. The articles concentrate on the links between Libes briv and the contours of German Pietism in order to initiate exploration of the complex relationship between Central European Judaism and eighteenth-century Pietism. This largely unrecognized arena of Jewish-Christian encounter is presented as a significant factor in a century that promoted modernity</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00The Manuscripts Of Isaac Wetzlar’s Libes Briv<p> Isaac Wetzlar’s Libes briv (1748/9) was not printed, but circulated in manuscript form. The manuscript transmission spans a period of at least 65 years. No autograph has survived. Nine manuscripts are known today, some of which have been heavily edited. The article discusses earlier research on the manuscripts, transmission and audience, textual variants, and the different titles under which the text was circulated.</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00Shylock’s Daughters: Philosemitism, Popular Culture, And The Liberal Imagination<p> S. H. Mosenthal’s blockbuster drama Deborah, popularized in the English-speaking world as Leah, The Forsaken, delivered generations of nineteenth-century theatergoers fantasies about Jewish women. This paper explores the rich performance history of this work, offering a new perspective on the role of popular culture in launching distinctly liberal forms of philosemitism.</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00Reframing Race And Jewish/Christian Relations In The Middle Ages<p> This article evaluates Jewish-Christian difference in the constantly shifting terrain of thirteenth-century medieval England. It reframes this difference in relation to theories of embodiment, feminist materialism, and entanglement theory. To conceptualize how Jews can be marked by race vis-à-vis the body, the article uses the example of Christian Hebraists discussing the Hebrew alphabet and its place in thirteenth-century English bilingual manuscripts.</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00Rethinking Sovereignty And Autonomy: New Currents In The History Of Jewish Nationalism<p> This article explores the past and present of the concepts of “sovereignty” and “autonomy” in Jewish nationalism. It revisits the play of-and interplay between-the two terms in the current moment of globalizations, when old truths about state sovereignty are being questioned. In particular, it highlights a number of new trends in the historiography of Jewish nationalism that lend prominence to autonomist or diasporist currents; at the same time, it suggests the potential utility of such currents in helping to understand long-standing political conflicts today.</p>ARTICLE2015-06-16T00:00:00.000+00:00Ephraim Elimelech Urbach and the Movement for Torah’s Judaism 1966–1975—An Attempt to Reestablish the Breslau School in Israel<p>In 1966, Ephraim Elimelech Urbach and a group of religious intellectual figures established the Movement for Torah’s Judaism, in order to change some elements in the religious life in Israel. The hegemony of religion in Israel belonged at that time to Orthodox Judaism and its political parties, especially the Lithuanian <italic>Yeshivot</italic> circles. The new movement challenged the “gap between the people and the Torah and the gap between the <italic>halacha</italic> and the political, economic and social reality”, and called “to revive the <italic>halacha</italic> through the clear assumption, that the problems of the State are included again in the field of Torah”.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-30T00:00:00.000+00:00Shifting Conceptions of Oral Tradition in the Nineteenth Century<p>The dispute over the nature of the Oral Law in the nineteenth century sheds light on fundamental developments in modern Jewish thought. An attitudinal shift can be discerned in the modern period. If in the medieval period, oral transmission was perceived as preserving the accuracy and authentic meaning of the tradition, in modern times it was described, to the contrary, as a crucial means of adapting Jewish tradition to constantly changing environments and to the demands of each generation. This radical new assumption that the existence of an oral tradition reflected the ability of the halakha to change gave rise to countless arguments: if the writing of a text signifies stagnation, when did Jewish tradition lose its vitality? Who was responsible for thus turning the halakha into a fixed or even, according to some, a lifeless system by writing it down? The article addresses these and similar questions raised by the nineteenth-century Jewish scholars throughout Europe and shows how their answers reflect the governing ideologies of the various camps in Jewish society.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-30T00:00:00.000+00:00Preface: The Jewish-Theological Seminary of Breslau, the “Science of Judaism”and the Development of a Middle-of-the-Road Current in Religious Judaism Wolf Meisel’s Attempt to Establish a Midstream Judaism in Hungary, 1859-1867<p>During the years that led to the Hungarian Jewish schism of 1869, Orthodoxy reigned relatively unchallenged in communities of long standing or East European immigration, while Neology spread in the recently founded urban synagogues. Only the steadily growing community of Pest, Hungary’s economic capital, presented an appropriate testing-ground for religious forces that tried to withstand the progressive cleavage. My paper will focus on the exceptional moment after 1859, when Chief Rabbi Wolf Meisel (1815-1867), a Bohemian compatriot of Zacharias Frankel, formulated in his short-lived journal <italic>Der Carmel</italic> a popular midstream ideology that was largely independent from the Breslau-style „Science of Judaism.” Jointly attacked by the Orthodox party as well as by Leopold Löw’s progressive journal <italic>Ben-Chananja</italic>, Meisel’s religious position was undermined by the rise of Hungarian nationalism and the more successfully mediatized Magyarization efforts of the Neologs. My paper will ask for the ideological and social characteristics of Rabbi Meisel’s failed peace movement, the controversy it aroused, and its long-term repercussions on Hungarian Jewish modernism.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-30T00:00:00.000+00:00The Career of a Mediator. Manuel Joël, Conservative Liberal<p>This essay focuses upon Rabbi Manuel Joël, stressing for the first time his unusual position between the Positive-Historical and the Liberal movements within German Judaism. His stance produced controversy both with the Liberal Rabbi Abraham Geiger, his predecessor in the Breslau rabbinate, and Heinrich Graetz, his teacher at the Positive-Historical Breslau Theological Seminary. Points of dispute included Joël’s prayer book and his participation in the Liberal Leipzig Synod of 1869. Yet controversy eventually gave way to reconciliation and Joël could ultimately enjoy the respect of both factions.</p>ARTICLE2016-12-30T00:00:00.000+00:00Undoing Jewish Ethnography<p> In this paper, a long-time resident of the Lower East Side of New York City reflects on his experiences as an adult “learner” in his neighborhood yeshiva. The questions addressed in this narrative autoethnography include: What are the forms of self-making that shared study of Rabbinic texts affords? What is the range of intellectual freedom, and how does this interact with the formal and informal hierarchies of the place? What is the balance, for a mature male Jewish ethnographer, of anthropological fieldwork and study “for its own sake” in this setting? Throughout, the emphasis is on the commonalities shared by the ethnographer and his fellows at the yeshiva, rather than on the putative process of crossing cultural bridges.</p>ARTICLE2015-12-31T00:00:00.000+00:00Jakob Wassermann: A Jew in the Nationalist Avant-Garde?<p> Of Jewish origin, Jakob Wassermann (1873-1934) has been labeled a nationalist and reactionary author, even a precursor of fascism. The opposite is the case. Nicole Plöger (2007) argues convincingly for Wassermann’s modernism by examining the literary style of his early novels. This article seeks to complement her approach by concentrating on two key aspects of Wassermann’s thought: First, there is his critical attitude to modern industrial and urban life, exemplified in his “Volksromane.” Second, Wassermann conceived of the “Orientale,” a charismatic leader figure of Jewish origin-heavily influenced by Nietzsche’s “Übermensch”-who would overcome anti-Semitism, and eventually, reconcile the German and Jewish cultures. These two elements of his early work, which may appear reactionary from the modern viewpoint, are in fact decisive evidence that Wassermann was at the height of his time.</p>ARTICLE2015-12-31T00:00:00.000+00:00en-us-1