Modernity Within Tradition: The Social History of Orthodox Jewry in Imperial Germany

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Columbia University Press, 1992 - History - 514 pages
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a spiritual struggle seized Orthodox Jewry in the German empire, as tradition clashed with modernity, producing paradox and contradiction. Mordechai Breuer's Modernity Within Tradition: The Social History of Orthodox Jewry in Imperial Germany offers an insightful social history of the period, concentrating on the vital and creative efforts of individuals such as Esriel Hildesheimer and Samson Raphael Hirsch, who grappled with the difficulties of integrating German culture into the Jewish tradition. Breuer demonstrates how Orthodox Jewry, by virtue of its stimulating intellectual tradition and its importance to the religious life of the community, could rise to the challenges of the Jewish reform movement. He brilliantly illustrates the flexibility and complex nature of Orthodoxy, which enabled Jews to participate in German cultural and economic life while remaining loyal to their religious tradition. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Breuer provides a broad and complex understanding of the documentation of the period, including periodicals, memoirs, and religious literature. His clear and concise discussion covers Jewish Orthodoxy's significant impact upon a wide variety of areas, including general education, literature and the arts, the economy and social status, cultural attitudes toward Orthodoxy, and the problems of identity German Jews faced. Modernity Within Tradition provides a fascinating account for any reader interested in social history, and promises to be indispensable to scholars and students of Jewish and German history and religion.

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