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Dutch national identity and jewish international solidarity: An impossible combination? Dutch Jewry and the significance of the Damascus affair (1840)

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Chapter Summary

The common Ashkenazi language, Yiddish, was in all western European countries replaced by the vernacular. Yiddish was not only considered to be an uncivilized language, but also an expression of the Jewish nationality. Did Dutch Jews still feel connected to their co-religionists over the borders, or did their newly acquired national identity isolate them from world Jewry? This chapter answers this question from the perspective of the small, acculturated Dutch Jewish elite. These were among the most receptive people to the nationalization offensive, and were also the leaders of the community. The chapter focuses particularly on the highest level of the community's organizational structure in the nineteenth century, the Hoofdcommissie tot de zaken der Israëliten (Supreme Commission for Israelite Affairs). After introducing the Hoofdcommissie, its policy in the Damascus Affair is presented as a test case how national identity and international solidarity were related to each other.

Keywords: Ashkenazi language; Damascus Affair; Dutch Jewry; Dutch national identity; Jewish international solidarity



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