Beyond Particularism: On Ethical Culture & the Reconstructionists
THE INTELLECTUAL history of modern Jewry is singularly repetitive. As early as the 18th century, West European Jewish intellectuals defined the basic problem of retaining Jewish identity in a world both attractive and at the same time manifesting varying degrees of hostility. The following two hundred years largely represent the gradual process of one generation after another losing its unself-conscious Jewish identity and reacting with varying degrees of affirmation or rejection to Western civilization. The reflections of the newly acculturated maskilim of Galicia in the 1820′s closely parallel those of the Mendelssohn circle a generation earlier; with the exception of the Zionists and the socialists, the countless defense pamphlets written by Jews against anti-Semites all through the modern period nearly always repeat the same familiar, usually apologetic arguments.
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