Jews at the Crossroads

Tradition and Accommodation during the Golden Age of the Hungarian Nobility
$90.00 / €79.00 / £71.00
Publication date: 
303 pages

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.

A Note on Sources
List of Abbreviations
List of Tables


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

1878 and Beyond: Two Chambers of One Heart

“Words of Peace and Truth”: A Call for Unity by Moses Ezekiel Fischmann



"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."
"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."
"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."