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Searching for Authenticity: The (re)birth of Jewish Denominations in 19th-century Europe

February 5, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm




Since the canonization of the Talmud, Jews lived in autonomous communities that clearly defined the meaning and obligations of Jewishness. The rise of the modern centralized state in the nineteenth century, and the impact of Enlightenment and secularization, radically transformed this reality. The dismantling of the autonomous community and the integration of Jews into European states as citizens meant the end of this self-evident Jewish identity. It brought the freedom as well as the inescapable imperative to redefine the meaning of Jewishness, first in Western Europe and then in the East. In response, Jews sought to reconstruct their Jewish identities as they always had, by grounding them in prooftexts that “proved” their own iteration of Judaism was the most authentic. This lecture will examine the process of this reconstruction, survey its main iterations, and reflect on its significance today.

ABOUT THIS SPEAKER: Joshua Shanes received his B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1993, his Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in 2002, and spent time in between studying in Israel. Professor Shanes’s research interests focus on Central and East European Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries, specifically turn-of-the-century Galicia and the rise of Zionism as a counter-movement to the traditional Jewish establishment. Dr. Shanes became the Associate Director of Jewish Studies in Fall 2017.


Congregation Or Tzion
16415 N 90th St
Scottsdale, AZ 85260 United States