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Jews at the Crossroads
Tradition and Accommodation during the Golden Age of the Hungarian Nobility

Howard N. Lupovitch, Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies
Colby College, History Department

Examines the social and political history of the Jews of Miskolc-the third largest Jewish community in Hungary-and presents the wider transformation of Jewish identity during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It explores the emergence of a moderate, accommodating form of traditional Judaism that combined elements of tradition and innovation, thereby creating an alternative to Orthodox and Neolog Judaism. This form of traditional Judaism reconciled the demands of religious tradition with the expectations of Magyarization and citizenship, thus allowing traditional Jews to be patriotic Magyars.
By focusing on Hungary, this book seeks to correct a trend in modern Jewish historiography that views Habsburg Jewish History as an extension of German Jewish History, most notably with regard to emancipation and enlightenment. Rather than trying to fit Hungarian Jewry into a conventional Germano-centric taxonomy, this work places Hungarian Jews in the distinct contexts of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Danube Basin, positing a more seamless nexus between the eighteenth and nineteenth century. This nexus was rooted in a series of political experiments by Habsburg sovereigns and Hungarian noblemen that culminated in civic equality, and in the gradual expansion of traditional Judaism to meet the challenges of the age.

Contents

Preface; Introduction Rethinking the Rhythms of Emancipation and Enlightenment; Chapter 1 Eighteenth Century Pastorale: The Allures and Uncertainties of the Hungarian Frontier; Chapter 2 Crown, Town, Magnate, and Jew: Corporate Politics in Borsod County; Chapter 3 The Hevra Kadisha and the Rise of the Family Syndicate; Chapter 4 Jews in the Time of Cholera: The Epidemic of 1831 and Its Aftermath; Chapter 5 The Kehilla and the Business of Religion; Chapter 6 Educational Reform and Religious Identity; Chapter 7 Széchenyi's Soup at Szemere's Table Miskolc Jewry and the Era of Reform, 1836-1848; Chapter 8 Revolution by Proxy: Jews in the Hinterland; Chapter 9 Coming of Age, 1851-1878; Conclusion 1878 and Beyond: Two Chambers of One Heart; Appendix: "Words of Peace and Truth": A Call for Unity by Moses Ezekiel Fischmann; Bibliography; Index

"As Lupovitch shows in a carefully researched local case study, there is value in turning from the large centers of Jewish life in central and eastern Europe to examine smaller Jewish communities. In reality, the Miskolc Jewish community was far from negligible. In 1848, this was the third largest Jewish community in Hungary after Budapest and Nagyvárad, and by 1869 Jews made up more than 20 percent of the city's population. Seizing upon the survival of a rich collection of communal protocols, Lupovitch offers a detailed reconstruction of the development of Jewish institutions in the city, the relationship between Jews and their non-Jewish noble patrons, and debates within the Jewish community during the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries." - Slavic Review

"Lupovitch organizes the book into three sections corresponding to the phases in the development of noble-Jewish relations. In the first period, from the origins of organized Jewish life in Miskolc until the cholera epidemic of 1831, Jews were primarily economic partners of the nobility. In the second period, Jews became administrative allies of the nobility as well. Finally, from the Jewish emancipation debates of the 1840s through the Miskolc Jewish community's affiliation with moderate Orthodoxy in 1878 and beyond, Jews aided the nobility in the promotion of the Magyar national movement in the Kingdom of Hungary, an essential aspect of their citizenship in the multinational state." - Austrian History Yearbook

"Lupovitch is most successful when closely examining - among others - the nature of litigations between Jews and magnates, the everyday functioning of Jewish organizations, as well as, for instance, when analyzing the heated debates behind choosing a new rabbi for the community.
Lupovitch convincingly supports his thesis about the middle-ground option of the Miskolc commmunity, and his work also prompts the re-examination of accepted tenets on East- and Central-European Jewish historiography through its investigation on the local level. Considering how substantially researched and well-written Jews at the Crossroads is, Lupovitch's community study is likely to prove an indispensable piece of Jewish history in the region." - ECE Journal

2007
303 pages
ISBN 978-963-7326-66-0 cloth $50.00 / €42.95 / £40.00

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