Mitnagdim, Hasidim, Maskilim: The Cultural Geography of Jewish Eastern Europe

Ger Hasidim (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
Ger Hasidim (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

This lecture presents a broad overview of the three main intellectual-religious trends present in 19th century Jewish Eastern Europe: the traditionalist Mitnagdim, the innovative Hasidim, and the modernizing Maskilim. Good as an overall introduction, although I go into more detail on all of these movements in other lectures on this website.  Taped on April 21, 2013 as a lecture to the Jewish Geneaological Society of Broward Country.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/mKB4kzUYzPY]

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Moses Mendelssohn and the Haskalah Movement

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoFSV-Nx5Kc]

Moses Mendelssohn was a hugely influential thinker in 18th-century Germany.  An unusually gifted intellect, he became the primary spokesperson for the emancipation of Jews in the 18th century, and his cause was championed by many non-Jewish liberals of the era. Heralded as the founder of the Reform movement even though Mendelssohn himself maintained an observant lifestyle, his activity spawned a wholesale abandonment of traditional Judaism. Within a century of his death, his strategy of acculturation to the modern era was widely accepted by most Jewish thinkers in western Europe, but not a single one of Mendelssohn’s descendants remained Jewish.

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