By Steven E. Aschheim
Brothers and Strangers strains the historical past of German Jewish attitudes, rules, and stereotypical photographs towards japanese eu Jews, demonstrating the ways that the old rupture among jap and Western Jewry constructed as a functionality of modernism and its imperatives. by way of the Eighteen Eighties, so much German Jews had inherited and used such detrimental photos to represent rejection in their personal ghetto prior and to stress the distinction among glossy “enlightened” Jewry and its “half-Asian” counterpart. furthermore, stereotypes of the ghetto and the japanese Jew figured prominently within the development and disposition of German anti-Semitism. no longer every person shared those damaging preconceptions, notwithstanding, and through the years a competing post-liberal snapshot emerged of the Ostjude as cultural hero. Brothers and Strangers examines the genesis, improvement, and results of those altering forces of their frequently advanced cultural, political, and highbrow contexts.
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Additional info for Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German Jewish Consciousness, 1800-1923
We need therefore to turn to the experience of cultural assimilation in the cities. (It goes without saying that the rates of assimilation varied from place to place. ) What was the substance of Jewish assimilation? In practice it was linked to the process of embourgeoisement. German Jewry never had a wide social base. Jews did not integrate into some abstract Volk but into the middle class, 13 and they spent much of the nineteenth century internalizing the economic, ethical, and aesthetic standards of that class.
41 This attitude was not limited to liberal and Reform Jews; German Orthodoxy expressed exactly the same opinions. 42 Perhaps the new rationalism made their position entirely predictable, but the attack was not limited to manifestations of Polish mysticism and irrationalism. It was equally vehement against traditional Talmudic modes of discourse, this time on the grounds of their exaggerated scholasticism. The non-Jewish perception of the Talmud rapidly came to be accepted by Jewish reformers, and the Talmudists, especially the Polish variety, were said to be sharp but captious; their wit and shrewdness were emphasized at the cost of all other spiritual qualities.
Most simply, Bildung implied the selfcultivation of a "cultured" personality. 15 German Jews never lost sight of these Enlightenment ideals. Their belief in the primacy of culture, which to them meant faith in reason and the regenerative power of ideas and education, remained a central if illusory element in their view of life. Assimilation legitimated itself according to the perceived dictates of the Bildung ideal. That ideal determined the pattern of German acculturation and became the criterion by which traditional Jewish culture was judged.