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Christian And Judaism 54

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Grantham University
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Running Head: JEWISH ENLIGHTENMENT 1
Jewish Enlightenment
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Jewish Enlightenment
2
The Jewish Enlightenment was a movement lead by Moses Mendelssohn, who was the
grandfather of the famous pianist and composer Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was educated in
the traditional manner of reading, memorizing, and interpreting Jewish texts, he also however
learned European languages and literature, mostly through his efforts (Katz, 2014). He won
recognition from leading non-Jewish intellectuals for his philosophical writings in German; and he
translated the Tanka into German for Yiddish speaking Jews who did not know the European
alphabet, by writing out the German in Hebrew letters. His goal was to encourage these Jews to
abandon Yiddish, which was despised by Europeans as a course German dialect.
Emboldened by leaders like Mendelssohn, many Jews emerged from their isolation, became
part of European society, and for the first time identified themselves with Christian civilization-
albeit an enlightened Christendom. Emancipated Jews now spoke, dressed, and behaved like their
Christian neighbors, and began to engage in craftwork, agriculture, and other professions previously
closed to Jews (Lieu, 2017). They also undertook secular studies with great enthusiasm. Such
developments were criticized by traditional Jews in eastern Europe, for whom the Torah study was
the sole focus of Jewish education. In their eyes, secular studies were irrelevant at best, and at worst
heretical, since they led young people into alien cultures and religions.
Even though Mendelssohn remained an Orthodox Jew throughout his life and was the
support of several traditional rabbis, he was blamed after his death for the secularization of German
Jewry. His efforts at Enlightenment had inadvertently led some Jews to abandon the ghetto-style
religion of their upbringing and become almost entirely assimilated into European culture
(Zetterholm, 2015). The Jewish Enlightenment also had the unintended consequence of promoting
conversion to Christianity, especially among better educated and wealthier Jews. All of
Mendelssohn's grandchildren became Christians. To stem the tide of secularization and conversion,

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Running Head: JEWISH ENLIGHTENMENT 1 Jewish Enlightenment Name Institution Date Jewish Enlightenment 2 The Jewish Enlightenment was a movement lead by Moses Mendelssohn, who was the grandfather of the famous pianist and composer Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was educated in the traditional manner of reading, memorizing, and interpreting Jewish texts, he also however learned European languages and literature, mostly through his efforts (Katz, 2014). He won recognition from leading non-Jewish intellectuals for his philosophical writings in German; and he translated the Tanka into German for Yiddish speaking Jews who did not know the European alphabet, by writing out the German in Hebrew letters. His goal was to encourage these Jews to abandon Yiddish, which was despised by Europeans as a course German dialect. Emboldened by leaders like Mendelssohn, many Jews emerged from their i ...
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