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The Karaites In Austrian Galicia: The Community As Seen From Outside

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Chapter Summary

The 1770s constituted the beginning of a new era for Galicia, its land and people. This chapter shows that the Karaites, in contrast to the Rabbanite Jews, were treated very favourably and received a status almost identical to that of Christian citizens of the Empire. Favourable treatment of the Karaites is a good example of the general pragmatism of Joseph's Toleranzpolitik. It seems that the question of the economic utility of a given ethnic minority was the main basis for differential legal treatment of ethnic groups living in Austria at that time. The chapter attempts to answer the questions: Why were the decisions of Austrian officialdom so much in favour of the Karaites, who were but a mere drop in the ocean of the thousands of Talmudic Jews? Why were the Karaites perceived by both state officials and public opinion as a better sort of Jews than their Rabbanite neighbours?.

Keywords: Austria; Galicia; Karaites; Rabbanite Jews; Toleranzpolitik



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