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Jewish Women in Enlightenment Berlin
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Jewish Women in Enlightenment Berlin (Hardback)

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The encounter of Jews

with the Enlightenment has so far been considered almost entirely from a

masculine perspective. In shifting the focus to a group of educated Jewish

women in Berlin, this engaging study makes an important contribution to German

Jewish history as well as to gender studies.


Naimark-Goldberg's study of these women's letters,literary activities, and

social life reveals them as cultivated members of the European public. Their

correspondence allowed them not only to demonstrate their intellectual talents

but also to widen their horizons and acquire knowledge-a key concern of women

seeking empowerment. Her descriptions of their involvement in the public

sphere, a key feature of Enlightenment culture, offer important new insights:

social gatherings in their homes served the purpose of intellectual

advancement, while the newly fashionable spas gave them the opportunity to

expand their contacts with men as well as with other women, and with non-Jews

as well as Jews, right across Europe.

As avid readers and

critical writers, these women reflected the secular world-view that was then

beginning to spread among Jews. Imbued with enlightened ideas and values and a

new feminine awareness, they began to seek independence and freedom, to the

extent of challenging the institution of marriage and traditional family


A final

chapter discusses the relationship of the women to Judaism and to religion in

general, including their attitude to conversion to Christianity-the route that

so many ultimately took.

`A major contribution to German

Jewish history and to gender studies . . . It becomes clear that . . . Jewish

women participated in the European Enlightenment as well, although usually in a

different and unique way . . . [Naimark-Goldberg] enhances our view of the

history of German Jewry and Jewish women, the processes of modernization and

secularization, and the cultural history of the Jews at the onset of modern


Shmuel Feiner, Bar Ilan University

`This book is of great interest and significance.

Dr Naimark-Goldberg's approach is part of a newer historiographical tradition

in the study of women and culture. Her book takes a new angle of research and

makes a significant contribution to understanding Jewish women's history and

Jewish culture as a whole.'

Shulamit Magnus, Oberlin College

Natalie Naimark-Goldberg is Braun Chair for the History of the Jews in Prussia Research Fellow at Bar-Ilan University. She is the co-editor, with Shmuel Feiner, of Cultural Revolution in Berlin: Jews in the Age of Enlightenment (2011). Her fields of research include the history of Jewish women in the modern period, modern German Jewish history, and the history of the Jewish Enlightenment in Germany.

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