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Dutch Jewry in a Cultural Maelstrom

Dutch Jewry in a Cultural Maelstrom: 1880-1940

Judith Frishman
Hetty Berg
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Dutch Jewry in a Cultural Maelstrom
    Book Description:

    Not only the Jews but Dutch society at large was caught up in a cultural maelstrom between 1880 and 1940. In failing to form a separate pillar in a period when various population groups were doing just that, the Jews were certainly unlike contemporary Catholics or Protestants. In fact, the Jews were not trying to gain entrance in a pre-existing culture but were involved with non-Jews in constructing a new culture. The complexity of Dutch Jewish history once again becomes evident if not new.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2106-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
    (pp. 7-10)

    The division of history into time periods is no simple matter: historians in the twentieth century have heatedly debated the dating of the beginning and end of the Middle Ages, as well as the use of such terms as modern and contemporary history. One historian has recently even suggested that Antiquity ends only in the year 1000 and that the Middle Ages subsequently run from 1000 till 1800.¹ Although we will refrain from entering into that larger discussion here, some justification of the years 1880–1940 as the chosen time span for the studies on Dutch Jewry presented in this...

  2. The New “Mosaik”. Jews and European Culture, 1750-1940
    (pp. 11-30)
    David Sorkin

    That the relationship of Jews to European culture has been and continues to be a vexed topic should come as no surprise: as a principal piece of the history of the Jews in European society it could not be otherwise. Yet in some ways the subject has been even more fraught than one might expect. The cultural question has served as a lightning rod for all the problems inherent in the last three centuries of European Jewish history. Take any of the central issues of modern Jewish history – emancipation, anti-Semitism, assimilation – and you will find that some of...

  3. The Politics of Jewish Historiography
    (pp. 31-42)
    Michael Brenner

    Speaking to an audience of German Jewish émigrés in the London Leo Baeck Institute in 1959, Gershom Scholem launched a fierce attack against the fathers of Jewish Studies, the discipline whose most famed representative he himself had by then become. His systematic criticism of nineteenth-century Wissenschaft des Judentums, delivered in German and entitled “Science of Judaism Then and Now”, was itself a milder version of an article published in Hebrew fifteen years earlier under the title “Mitokh Hirhurim ‘al Ḥokhmat Yisrael”. Asked why he changed his tone, Scholem would later say in an interview with Pierre Bourdieu and Jean Bollack:...

  4. “The First Shall Be the Last”. The Rise and Development of Modern Jewish Historiography in the Netherlands until 1940
    (pp. 43-52)
    Renate G. Fuks-Mansfeld

    The unilateral view of Jewish history in post-biblical Judaism formed a serious deterrent for the development of Jewish historiography. The rabbinical precepts for diaspora life had grown into a rigid structure aimed at religious, political, and cultural survival of the Jewish people in its dispersion, and remained valid until the end of the eighteenth century. The idea behind the rabbinic strategy of survival was that the people of Israel had lost its national homeland because of its sins. Israel, therefore, had to wait in thegolahuntil the coming of the Messiah in God’s own time, when the redemption would...

  5. Epigones and Identity. Jewish Scholarship in the Netherlands, 1850-1940
    (pp. 53-66)
    Irene E. Zwiep

    According to the prevalent opinion, Dutch Jewry never managed to participate in the Wissenschaft des Judentums. The Wissenschaft, as we know, was an intellectual movement that originated in Germany in the early nineteenth century as an attempt to develop a “national” Jewish historiography, the aim of which was to reconstruct the Jewish cultural past and to forge the resulting narrative into a paradigm of modern Jewish identity. In the course of the century, this intellectual strategy gradually gained ground, in one form or another, in various Jewish centers in Europe and the United States. In one respect common opinion is...

  6. Judaism on Display. The Origins of Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum
    (pp. 67-84)
    Julie-Marthe Cohen

    The Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam, currently housed in the former Ashkenazic synagogue complex on Jonas Daniel Meijerplein, was founded in 1930. It was officially opened two years later, on February, 24 1932, in the Weigh House on Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam. The early history of the Museum has, until now, only been presented summarily. Descriptions have appeared in the various guide-books published by the Museum and in a book entitledVier eeuwen Waterlooplein, which appeared in 1987.¹ My research in the archives of the Amsterdam municipality’s art department, of Amsterdam’s Ashkenazic community, the Jewish and non-Jewish press, and various museum...

  7. De Vrijdagavond as a Mirror of Dutch Jewry in the Interbellum, 1924-1932
    (pp. 85-96)
    Judith Frishman

    The period between the final quarter of the nineteenth century and the onset of the economic depression in the 1930s was one of an enormous boom in the publication of journals and magazines in Europe, both academic and popular. The invention of inexpensive and fast techniques for reproducing photographs in the 1890s led to the emergence of a new genre: the illustrated weekly. The Netherlands formed no exception to this general trend, as is attested to by the list of magazines received by theNieuwsblad voor den Boekhandeland published between January 1921 and January 1934.¹ The issue of 1922...

  8. “Holland is a country which provokes serious reflection...”. Images of Dutch Jewry in the German Jewish Press
    (pp. 97-102)
    Thomas Kollatz

    Periodicals played an important role in the transition from the pre-modern to the bourgeois period, emerging as ideal discussion forums for the collective pursuit of the objective of a modern bourgeois identity. The nationwide press enabled the flourishing of a supra-regional and public debate, and as a result reinforced the distinctions between and the uniformity within political, social, and religious groups of the population. Modern liberalism, the labor movement, Protestantism, Catholicism, and various movements in Judaism all owe their specific shape to the formative discourses that took place in the contemporary press, and which helped establish their identities. Jews took...

  9. Spinozism and Dutch Jewry between 1880 and 1940
    (pp. 103-120)
    H.A. Krop

    At the end of the nineteenth century, after two centuries of apathy,¹ Dutch Jewry grew increasingly interested in Spinoza (1632-1677), the controversial philosopher expelled from its ranks in 1656. The first part of this paper will outline the study of Spinoza by Dutch Jews between 1880 and 1940. Their research into the historical and cultural background of Spinoza, however, did not amount to Spinozism, for his philosophy was in general left aside. In the second part we will contend that Protestants and trained theologians almost exclusively dominated pre-war Dutch Spinozism. Finally, a cautious attempt to explain the lack of a...

  10. Spinoza’s Popularity in Perspective. A Dutch-German Comparison
    (pp. 121-130)
    David Wertheim

    The German Jewish philosopher Constantin Brunner wrote in 1909 of something that deeply disturbed him: he had heard that bricks had been tossed on the lap and feet of the statue of Spinoza in the Hague, and that these bricks were left there by local Jews. “Could one imagine that the blind hatred against Spinoza still persists in the lower echelons of the Jewish population of Holland?”, he asked his readers rhetorically.¹

    Brunner’s surprise was a result of the contrast of this Dutch-Jewish attitude with the almost self-evident popularity Spinoza had enjoyed among Jews in Germany in the course of...

  11. Mozes Salomon Polak. Jewish “Lerner” and Propagator of Freemasonry, Spiritualism, and Theosophy
    (pp. 131-138)
    Marty Bax

    Doing research can be a truewhodunitin the style of an Agatha Christie mystery story. The one you suspect the least, turns out to be the perpetrator in the end. The same principle applies to the subject of my paper, Mozes Salomon Polak. My research on Polak originates in my research on the early roots of the Theosophical Society in Holland. As an art historian, I investigate the influence of theosophy on art between 1880 and 1920. I therefore was interested in those movements in society that led to the foundation of the Dutch Theosophical Society in 1891: which...

  12. Jewish Women, Philanthropy, and Modernization. The Changing Roles of Jewish Women in Modern Europe, 1850-1939
    (pp. 139-154)
    Susan L. Tananbaum

    Attention to women’s roles and the importance of gender as a category of analysis has changed the face of historical writing over the last thirty years. As scholars have noted, history – especially Jewish history – is a rather conservative endeavor.¹ Arguably, Jewish history has been slower to introduce and validate “newer” approaches. Until the 1980s, attention to Jewish women remained relatively limited in the discipline; now however, we have a substantive and growing body of literature that sheds light on Jewish women’s lives in an impressive range of times and places.

    My presentation draws broadly on the work of...

  13. Roosje Vos, Sani Prijes, Alida de Jong, and the others. Jewish Women Workers and the Labor Movement as a Vehicle on the Road to Modernity
    (pp. 155-168)
    Karin Hofmeester

    It was Alida de Jong who wrote these words in 1933 in memory of Sani Prijes.¹ At that time De Jong herself was an important leader of the Union. Sani Prijes for her part was drawn into the union by Roosje Vos, one of the women who founded Allen Een in 1897.

    Roosje Vos, Sani Prijes, and Alida de Jong were all born in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam in a more or less traditional environment,² and all three would go on to play a significant part in the labor movement, fulfilling new capacities for Jewish women that offered an...

  14. Stemming the Current. Dutch Jewish Women and the First Feminist Movement
    (pp. 169-182)
    Marloes Schoonheim

    At the start of the twentieth century, life in the Netherlands continued to be as tempestuous as it had been since the second half of the nineteenth century. The demographic transition characterized by a steep decline in the mortality rate followed by a gradual decline in the fertility rate led to a rapid growth in population. This altered the composition of the citizenry irreversibly by introducing the demographic pattern of the modern family with two or three children and a keen awareness of family planning. Industrialization and economic growth resulted in increasing prosperity that for once did not completely pass...

  15. Dutch Jewish Women. Integration and Modernity
    (pp. 183-194)
    Selma Leydesdorff

    Once there was a vision: the hope and conviction that Jews would integrate into Dutch society. This hope existed especially among the progressive Jews: intelligentsia, liberals, and socialists. In recent decades, historians advocating a range of theories on the historical evolution of the Jewish role in the Western world have brought a number of historical figures to the fore. There were circles and places, movements, societies, and political parties where Jews were granted equality, and equal opportunity. In Dutch historiography, a specific and vast role has been assigned to socialism, in which, since the end of the nineteenth century, distinctions...

  16. Index of names of persons
    (pp. 195-198)
  17. Index of subjects
    (pp. 199-214)
    Janny Veldhuis