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Book Chapter

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Two Nations: British and German Jews in Comparative Perspective

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Judging from recent work by Jewish historians of both Germany and England, the unequivocal response to the heuristic question posed in the title of my essay should be emphatically negative. If indeed the Haskalah was "a socio-cultural movement powerful enough to effect a major shift in consciousness"1 or "a new ideology to shape a new community … a public social world informed with a new ideal of man",2 it could only have emerged within the particular political and cultural ambience of Germany. Despite Cecil Roth's relatively feeble attempt more than three decades ago to describe what he ambiguously called "an English Haskalah",3 such a notion has been generally dismissed. Michael Graetz, for example, echoes the strongly held views of Todd Endelman when he claims that a true Haskalah must be "more than a fleeting flare-up of ideas supported by a few isolated individuals".4



Date Posted: 03 August 2017