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Between Eurasia And Europe: Jewish Community And Identities In Contemporary Russia And Ukraine

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Chapter Summary


This chapter aims at providing a basic quantitative framework to the more extended discussion of the Jewish experience in Europe, past, present and future. In the light of the ongoing and expected demographic trends, European Jewry in the twenty-first century will not be small, as it will be in any case larger than the population of at least two if not three countries members of the European Union: Malta, Luxembourg, and possibly Cyprus. A major aspect of the sweeping changes ahead will reflect the ability of the European Jewish community system to address trends affecting each Jewish community in the peculiar ways of the respective geo- political and cultural contexts.

Keywords:Europe; Jews


The dawn of the nineteenth century saw Europe in transition: wars that the Russian Empire, Prussia, Great Britain and the Austrian Empire had conducted against revolutionary France ended with a French victory; in 1799, France came under the leadership of its first consul, Napoleon Bonaparte. With the God of Judaism and of all humanity thus stripped of any particularist context in Jewish history and in the land of Israel, God changed from a personal entity to a rather impersonal moral principle, becoming the foundation of what is commonly referred to as ethical monotheism. Reform Judaism thus represents both a dual and divided modernization: since, according to Reform Judaism, belief is not dependent on a sense of itself, or in other words on an under- standing of history and existence, but rather on morality, the movement was in danger of sinking into mere moral inspiration, just like all Enlightenment religions.

Keywords:Germany; Jewish Reform Movement; modernization




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