Old and New Knowledge Orders in 19th-Century Jewish History: German and American Perspectives
The paper will examine textbooks for Jewish religious instruction, which were produced in large numbers in German-speaking regions beginning in the early nineteenth century. Some of these textbooks were translated or adapted for American Jewish communities. These adaptations provide an opportunity to reflect upon the insights from German-Jewish history and broaden the perspective by focusing on processes of (knowledge) transfer. Furthermore the paper intends to inquire whether the political and social difference between Germany and the United states influenced the production and distribution of religious knowledge. For German and American Jews, the transmission of religious knowledge was inextricably bound up with diverse, often contested efforts to redefine Judaism in the modern era. The paper will thus give particular attention to the question of how far religious and cultural “traditions” of the Jews served as a point of reference in the creation of a new “Jewish” knowledge order.
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