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The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment

Prof. Pierre Birnbaum

Many of the radical changes and developments taking place during this time period came about as a result of the ideas and perceptions of the Enlightenment.

What were the ideals and goals of this movement and how did they relate to the way its leading thinkers perceived Jews and Judaism?

Given the fact that the Enlightenment is usually associated in the West with such positive developments as advancement of liberty, tolerance and constitutional government, do you find it surprising that antisemitism persisted in Europe after the Enlightenment?


  • Birnbaum, Pierre and Ira Katznelson, eds., Paths of Emancipation: Jews, States and Citizenship (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

  • Bödeker, Hans Erich, Clorinda Donato and Peter Reill, eds., Discourses of Tolerance and Intolerance in the European Enlightenment (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009).

  • Hertzberg, Arthur, The French Enlightenment and the Jews: The Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990).‏

  • Schechter, Ronald, Obstinate Hebrews: Representations of Jews in France, 1715-1815 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

  • Sutcliffe, Adam, Judaism and Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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