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date: 22 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

For many years, historical writing about the Jewish experience in modern western and central Europe was guided by emancipation and assimilation. Historians focused either on the transformations of Jewish society that accompanied the achievement or on the response this engendered in society at large. While this is still for the most part true, there has been a substantial broadening and deepening of the definitions, contours, and content of these concepts. This article provides an overarching framework looking at the core issues of identity, the minority perspective, the still-regnant emancipation paradigm, the Jewish Question, and the east-west divide. Such issues pertain to the search for the modern. In other words, the many and various ways in which European Jews became modern is now a staple of historical discourse and can be said to characterize the historiography in this field.

Keywords: emancipation, assimilation, Western European Jewry, minority perspective, Jewish historiography, Jewish Question

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