Haskalah, a Jews' word for enlightenment was a movement intend to integrate Jews into civilization, while still remaining Jews. John Beaty, an eminent academic explains it in The Iron Curtain Over America at Haskalah. The Wiki also explains it after a fashion; see Haskalah ex Wiki. The Wiki is a good starting point but needs to be treated with suspicion on important issues. Its political agenda is built in. This is one is an example.
Moses Mendelssohn ex Wiki [ 1729 to 1786 ] was the moving force. He liked the idea of Jews learning to speak the language of the country they were living in; hardly a radical idea. The status quo was that Jews lived in segregated communities [ What people call ghettoes - the Wiki is being evasive ]. They were to a large extent trapped, enslaved in a 'mental ghetto' by their ignorance of the outside world. That was how the rabbis liked it; the source of their power which is why they opposed the idea. It is being done today, in 2016, in London & doubtless further afield. Keeping religious Jews isolated, ignorant, impoverished was policy and practice. The rabbis had the power. They want to keep it. They did. Moses Mendelssohn failed in a decent objective - a pity but it does tell us about the reality of Jews.
Moses Mendelssohn ex Wiki
Moses Mendelssohn (6 September 1729 – 4 January 1786) was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the Haskalah, the 'Jewish enlightenment' of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is indebted.
Born to a poor Jewish family in Dessau, Principality of Anhalt, and originally destined for a rabbinical career, Mendelssohn educated himself in German thought and literature and from his writings on philosophy and religion came to be regarded as a leading cultural figure of his time by both Christian and Jewish inhabitants of the Holy Roman Empire. He also established himself as an important figure in the Berlin textile industry, which was the foundation of his family's wealth.
Moses Mendelssohn's descendants include the composers Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn and the founders of the Mendelssohn & Co. banking house.
Moses Mendelssohn was born in Dessau. His father's name was Mendel, and it was Moses who adopted the surname Mendelssohn ("Mendel's son").................
A refugee Pole, Zamoscz, taught him mathematics, and a young Jewish physician taught him Latin. He was, however, mainly self-taught. He learned to spell and to philosophize at the same time (according to the historian Graetz). With his scanty earnings he bought a Latin copy of John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, and mastered it with the aid of a Latin dictionary. He then made the acquaintance of Aaron Solomon Gumperz, who taught him basic French and English. In 1750, a wealthy silk-merchant, Isaac Bernhard, appointed him to teach his children. Mendelssohn soon won the confidence of Bernhard, who made the young student successively his bookkeeper and his partner.
It was possibly Gumperz who introduced Mendelssohn to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in 1754, who became one of his greatest friends.........
Early prominence as philosopher and critic
Mendelssohn became (1756–1759) the leading spirit of Friedrich Nicolai's important literary undertakings, the Bibliothek and the Literaturbriefe, and ran some risk (which Frederick's good nature mitigated) by criticizing the poems of the King of Prussia. In 1762 he married Fromet Guggenheim, who survived him by twenty-six years. In the year following his marriage Mendelssohn won the prize offered by the Berlin Academy for an essay on the application of mathematical proofs to metaphysics, On Evidence in the Metaphysical Sciences; among the competitors were Thomas Abbt and Immanuel Kant (who came second). In October 1763 the king granted Mendelssohn, but not his wife or children, the privilege of Protected Jew (Schutzjude)—which assured his right to undisturbed residence in Berlin.
Mendelssohn also tried to better the Jews' situation in general by furthering their rights and acceptance. He induced Christian Wilhelm von Dohm to publish in 1781 his work, On the Civil Amelioration of the Condition of the Jews, which played a significant part in the rise of tolerance. Mendelssohn himself published a German translation of the Vindiciae Judaeorum by Menasseh Ben Israel.
The interest caused by these actions led Mendelssohn to publish his most important contribution to the problems connected with the position of Judaism in a Gentile world. This was Jerusalem (1783; Eng. trans. 1838 and 1852). It is a forcible plea for freedom of conscience, described by Kant as "an irrefutable book". Mendelssohn wrote:
Brothers, if you care for true piety, let us not feign agreement, where diversity is evidently the plan and purpose of Providence. None of us thinks and feels exactly like his fellow man: why do we wish to deceive each other with delusive words?
Its basic thrust is that the state has no right to interfere with the religion of its citizens, Jews included. While it proclaims the mandatory character of Jewish law for all Jews (including, based on Mendelssohn's understanding of the New Testament, those converted to Christianity), it does not grant the rabbinate the right to punish Jews for deviating from it. He maintained that Judaism was less a "divine need, than a revealed life". Jerusalem concludes with the cry "Love truth, love peace!"—in a quote from Zacharias 8:19.
Kant called this "the proclamation of a great reform, which, however, will be slow in manifestation and in progress, and which will affect not only your people but others as well." Mendelssohn asserted the pragmatic principle of the possible plurality of truths: that just as various nations need different constitutions—to one a monarchy, to another a republic, may be the most congenial to the national genius—so individuals may need different religions. The test of religion is its effect on conduct. This is the moral of Lessing's Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise), the hero of which is undoubtedly Mendelssohn, and in which the parable of the three rings is the epitome of the pragmatic position.
To Mendelssohn his theory represented a strengthening bond to Judaism. But in the first part of the 19th century, the criticism of Jewish dogmas and traditions was associated with a firm adhesion to the older Jewish mode of living. Reason was applied to beliefs, the historic consciousness to life. Modern reform in Judaism has parted to some extent from this conception. In the view of the German writer Heinrich Heine, "as Luther had overthrown the Papacy, so Mendelssohn overthrew the Talmud; and he did so after the same fashion, namely, by rejecting tradition, by declaring the Bible to be the source of religion, and by translating the most important part of it. By these means he shattered Judaic, as Luther had shattered Christian, Catholicism; for the Talmud is, in fact, the Catholicism of the Jews."
Mendelssohn grew ever more famous, and counted among his friends many of the great figures of his time. But his final years were overshadowed and saddened by the so-called pantheism controversy. Ever since his friend Lessing had died, he had wanted to write an essay or a book about his character. When Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, an acquaintance of both men, heard of Mendelssohn's project, he stated that he had confidential information about Lessing being a "Spinozist", which, in these years, was regarded as being more or less synonymous with "atheist"—something which Lessing was accused of being anyway by religious circles. This led to an exchange of letters between Jacobi and Mendelssohn which showed they had hardly any common ground. Mendelssohn then published his Morgenstunden oder Vorlesungen über das Dasein Gottes (Morning hours or lectures about God's existence), seemingly a series of lectures to his oldest son, his son-in-law and a young friend, usually held "in the morning hours", in which he explained his personal philosophical world-view, his own understanding of Spinoza and Lessing's "purified" (geläutert) pantheism. But almost simultaneously with the publication of this book in 1785, Jacobi published extracts of his and Mendelssohn's letters as Briefe über die Lehre Spinozas, stating publicly that Lessing was a self-confessed "pantheist" in the sense of "atheist". Mendelssohn was thus drawn into a poisonous literary controversy, and found himself attacked from all sides, including former friends or acquaintances such as Johann Gottfried von Herder and Johann Georg Hamann. Mendelssohn wrote a reply addressed To Lessing's Friends (An die Freunde Lessings) and died on January 4, 1786 as the result (it was thought at the time) of a cold contracted while carrying this manuscript to his publishers on New Year's Eve; Jacobi was held by some to have been responsible for his death. He was buried in Jüdischer Friedhof cemetery in Berlin. The translation of the Hebrew inscription on his grave (see picture, right) reads: H[ere] r[ests] / the wise R[eb] Moses of Dessau / born on the 12th OF Elul 5489 [September 6, 1729] / died on Wednesday the 5th of Shevat [January 4] / and buried the next morning on Thursday 6th/ 5546 [January 5, 1786] / M[ay] H[is] S[oul be] B[ound up in the] B[ond of eternal] L[ife]
Max Lilienthal ex Wiki
Max Lilienthal (November 6, 1815 – April 6, 1882) was a German-born adviser for the reform of Jewish schools in Russia and later a rabbi and proponent of Reform Judaism in the United States.
Haskalah ex Wiki
Haskala (Hebrew: השכלה, "enlightenment" or "education"; often termed the "Jewish Enlightenment") was an extensive intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, with a certain influence on those residing in Western Europe and Muslim lands. Spanning the 1770s to the 1880s, the Haskala advocated integration of the Jews into their surrounding societies, encouraging, among other things, the adoption of local vernaculars, secular studies and economic productivization. Concurrently, the movement promoted a Jewish cultural revival, manifested mainly in the creation of modern Hebrew literature.
In its various stages, the Haskala had a key role in the modernization of European Jews. Its proponents, the Maskilim, advocated and implemented social, educational and ideological reforms in the private and public spheres of Jewish society. Seeking transformation while maintaining Jewish separateness, they clashed both with the conservative rabbinical elite, which attempted to preserve traditional values in their entirety, and those who aspired for total assimilation.
The Haskalah's main motivation and aim was the modernization of the Jews, in accordance with the rationalistic and liberal ideals of the 18th and 19th centuries. Members of the movement sought to acquaint their people with European culture, have them adopt the vernacular language of their lands, and integrate them into larger society. They opposed Jewish reclusiveness and self-segregation, called upon Jews to discard traditional dress in favour of the prevalent one, and preached patriotism and loyalty to the new centralized governments. They acted to weaken and limit the jurisdiction of traditional community institutions – the rabbinic courts, empowered to rule on numerous civic matters, and the board of elders, which served as lay leadership. The maskilim perceived those as remnants of medieval discrimination. They criticised various traits of Jewish society, such as child marriage – traumatized memories from unions entered at the age of thirteen or fourteen are a common theme in Haskalah literature – the use of anathema to enforce community will and the concentration on virtually only religious studies.
As long as the Jews lived in segregated communities, and as long as all social intercourse with their Gentile neighbors was limited, the rabbi was the most influential member of the Jewish community. In addition to being a religious scholar and "clergy", a rabbi also acted as a civil judge in all cases in which both parties were Jews. Rabbis sometimes had other important administrative powers, together with the community elders. The rabbinate was the highest aim of many Jewish boys, and the study of the Talmud was the means of obtaining that coveted position, or one of many other important communal distinctions. Haskalah followers advocated "coming out of the ghetto", not just physically but also mentally and spiritually, in order to assimilate among Gentile nations.
The example of Moses Mendelssohn (1729–86), a Prussian Jew, served to lead this movement, which was also shaped by Aaron Halle-Wolfssohn (1754–1835) and Joseph Perl (1773–1839). Mendelssohn's extraordinary success as a popular philosopher and man of letters revealed hitherto unsuspected possibilities of integration and acceptance of Jews among non-Jews. Mendelssohn also provided methods for Jews to enter the general society of Germany. A good knowledge of the German language was necessary to secure entrance into cultured German circles, and an excellent means of acquiring it was provided by Mendelssohn in his German translation of the Torah. This work became a bridge over which ambitious young Jews could pass to the great world of secular knowledge. The Biur, or grammatical commentary, prepared under Mendelssohn's supervision, was designed to counteract the influence of traditional rabbinical methods of exegesis. Together with the translation, it became, as it were, the primer of Haskalah.
Language played a key role in the haskalah movement, as Mendelssohn and others called for a revival of Hebrew and a reduction in the use of Yiddish. The result was an outpouring of new, secular literature, as well as critical studies of religious texts. Julius Fürst along with other German-Jewish scholars compiled Hebrew and Aramaic dictionaries and grammars. Jews also began to study and communicate in the languages of the countries in which they settled, providing another gateway for integration.
Berlin is the city of origin for the movement. The capital city of Prussia and, later, the German Empire, Berlin became known as a secular, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic center, a fertile environment for conversations and radical movements. This move by the Maskilim away from religious study, into much more critical and worldly studies was made possible by this German city of modern and progressive thought. It was a city in which the rising middle class Jews and intellectual elites not only lived among, but were exposed to previous age of enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. The movement is often referred to the Berlin Haskalah. Reference to Berlin in relation to the Haskalah movement is necessary because it provides context for this episode of Jewish history. Subsequently having left Germany and spreading across Eastern Europe, the Berlin Haskalah influenced multiple Jewish communities who were hungry for non-religious scholarly texts and insight to worlds beyond their Jewish enclaves.
One facet of the Haskalah was a widespread cultural adaptation, as those Jews who participated in the enlightenment began in varying degrees to participate in the cultural practices of the surrounding Gentile population. Connected with this was the birth of the Reform movement, whose founders such as Israel Jacobson and Leopold Zunz rejected the continuing observance of those aspects of Jewish law which they classified as ritual, as opposed to moral or ethical. Even within orthodoxy the Haskalah was felt through the appearance of the Mussar Movement in Lithuania and Torah im Derech Eretz in Germany in response. Enlightened Jews sided with Gentile governments in plans to increase secular education among the Jewish masses, bringing them into acute conflict with the orthodox who believed this threatened Jewish life.
The spreading of Haskalah affected Judaism as a religion because of how much the different sects desired to be integrated, and in turn, integrate their religious traditions. The effects of the Enlightenment were already present in Jewish religious music and opinion on traditionalism versus modernization. Groups of Reform Jews such as the Society of the Friends of Reform and the Association for the Reform of Judaism were formed because they wanted and actively advocated for a change in Jewish tradition, mainly rituals like circumcision. Another non-Orthodox group was the Conservative Jews, who emphasized the importance of traditions but viewed with a historical perspective. The Orthodox Jews were actively against these reformers because they viewed changing Jewish tradition was an insult to God and that fulfillment in life could be found in serving God and keeping his commandments. The effect of Haskalah was that it was a dividing factor between sects.
Another important facet of the Haskalah was its interests to non-Jewish religions. Moses Mendelssohn criticized some aspects of Christianity, but depicted Jesus as a Torah-observant rabbi, who was loyal to traditional Judaism. Mendelssohn explicitly linked positive Jewish views of Jesus with the issues of Emancipation and Jewish-Christian reconciliation. Similar revisionist views were expressed by Rabbi Isaac Ber Levinsohn and other traditional representatives of the Haskalah movement.