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Chapter Six The Historian Becomes a Nationalist

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Chapter Summary

Simon Dubnow's move to Odessa had brought a major change in his social milieu. Only in Odessa was Dubnow finally able to become an active participant in a burgeoning social group, which provided an optimal setting for Dubnow's conversion to the cause of Jewish nationalism. During his brief stay in Mstislavl in 1899, Dubnow noted that small-town Jews were avidly discussing Herzl's diplomacy, the editorial positions of the Jewish press, reforms in Jewish education, and other burning issues of the day. Dubnow the ideologist of nationalism emerged out of Dubnow the historian of Judaism, as the historian had emerged earlier from the journalist and critic. An affectionate relationship developed between Mendele and Dubnow in the nineties, and they spent many hours together in Mendele's study. Dubnow's conception of non-territorial national autonomy differed from all these other positions because it was derived from a historical justification peculiarly his own.

Keywords: Herzl's diplomacy; Jewish education; Mendele Mokher Seforim; Mstislavl; non-territorial national autonomy; Odessa; Simon Dubnow



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