Jewish emancipation

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An 1806 French print depicts Napoleon Bonaparte emancipating the Jews Napoleon stellt den israelitischen Kult wieder her, 30. Mai 1806.jpg
An 1806 French print depicts Napoleon Bonaparte emancipating the Jews

Jewish emancipation was the external (and internal) process in various nations in Europe of eliminating Jewish disabilities, e.g. Jewish quotas, to which Jewish people were then subject, and the recognition of Jews as entitled to equality and citizenship rights. [1] It included efforts within the community to integrate into their societies as citizens. It occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century. Jewish emancipation followed the Age of Enlightenment and the concurrent Jewish enlightenment. [2] Various nations repealed or superseded previous discriminatory laws applied specifically against Jews where they resided. Before the emancipation, most Jews were isolated in residential areas from the rest of the society; emancipation was a major goal of European Jews of that time, who worked within their communities to achieve integration in the majority societies and broader education. Many became active politically and culturally within wider European civil society as Jews gained full citizenship. They emigrated to countries offering better social and economic opportunities, such as the Russian Empire and France. Some European Jews turned to Socialism, [3] and others to Jewish zionism. [4]

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Jewish Disabilities were legal restrictions, limitations and obligations placed on European Jews in the Middle Ages, somewhat analogous to those imposed on Jews in the Muslim world. In Europe, the disabilities imposed on Jews included provisions requiring Jews to wear specific and identifying clothing such as the Jewish hat and the yellow badge, paying special taxes, swearing special oaths, living in certain neighbourhoods, and forbidding Jews to enter certain trades. Disabilities also included special taxes levied on Jews, exclusion from public life, restraints on the performance of religious ceremonies, and linguistic censorship. Some countries went even further and outright expelled Jews, for example England in 1290 and Spain in 1492.

A Jewish quota was a racial quota limiting the number of Jews in various establishments to a certain percentage. In particular, in the 19th and 20th centuries, some countries had Jewish quotas in higher education.



The 1791 law proclaiming the Emancipation of the Jews - Musee d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaisme Royal decree proclaiming the emancipation of the Jews, France, 1791 - Musee d'art et d'histoire du Judaisme.jpg
The 1791 law proclaiming the Emancipation of the Jews – Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme

Jews were subject to a wide range of restrictions throughout most of European history. Since the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215, Christian Europeans required Jews and Muslims to wear special clothing, such as the Judenhut and the yellow badge for Jews, to distinguish them from Christians. The practice of their religions was often restricted, and they had to swear special oaths. Jews were not allowed to vote, where vote existed, and some countries formally prohibited their entry, such as Norway, Sweden and Spain after the expulsion in the late 15th century.

Fourth Council of the Lateran synod

The Fourth Council of the Lateran was convoked by Pope Innocent III with the papal bull Vineam domini Sabaoth of 19 April 1213, and the Council gathered at Rome's Lateran Palace beginning 11 November 1215. Due to the great length of time between the Council's convocation and meeting, many bishops had the opportunity to attend. It is considered by the Catholic Church to have been the twelfth ecumenical council and is sometimes called the "Great Council" or "General Council of Lateran" due to the presence of 71 patriarchs and metropolitan bishops, 412 bishops, 900 abbots and priors together with representatives of several monarchs.

Yellow badges, also referred to as Jewish badges, are badges that Jews were ordered to wear in public during certain periods by the ruling Christians and Muslims. The badges served to mark the wearer as a religious or ethnic outsider, and often served as a badge of shame.

Oath More Judaico

The Oath More Judaico or Jewish Oath was a special form of oath, rooted in antisemitsm and accompanied by certain ceremonies and often intentionally humiliating, painful or dangerous, that Jews were required to take in European courts of law until the 20th century. More Judaico is Latin for "on/by the Jewish custom." The question of the trustworthiness of the Jewish oath was intimately connected with the meaning that Christian authorities assigned to the Kol Nidre prayer, recited by Jews on Yom Kippur, and the whole of the legislation regarding the oath was characteristic of the attitude of medieval states toward their Jewish subjects. The identification of Church and State seemed to render it necessary to have a different formula for those outside the state church.

In contrast, in 1264, the Polish Prince Boleslaw the Pious issued the "Statute of Kalisz" – The General Charter of Jewish Liberties in Poland, an unprecedented document in medieval history of Europe that allows Jews personal freedom, legal autonomy and separate tribunal for criminal matters as well as safeguards against forced baptism and blood libel. The Charter was ratified again by subsequent Polish Kings: Casimir the Great of Poland in 1334, Casimir IV of Poland in 1453, and Sigismund I the Old of Poland in 1539. After massive expulsions of Jews from Western Europe (England, France, Germany, and Spain), they found a refuge in the lands of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the Jagiellon Era Poland became the home to Europe's largest Jewish population, as royal edicts warranting Jewish safety and religious freedom from the 13th century contrasted with bouts of persecution in Western Europe, especially following the Black Death of 1348–1349, blamed by some in the West on Jews themselves. Large parts of Poland suffered relatively little from the outbreak, while the Jewish immigration brought valuable manpower and skills to the rising state. The greatest increase in Jewish numbers occurred in the 18th century, when Jews came to make up 7% of the Polish population.

Bolesław the Pious Duke of Greater Poland

Bolesław the Pious was a Duke of Greater Poland during 1239–1247, Duke of Kalisz during 1247–1249, Duke of Gniezno during 1249–1250, Duke of Gniezno-Kalisz during 1253–1257, Duke of whole Greater Poland and Poznań during 1257–1273, in 1261 ruler over Ląd, regent of the Duchies of Mazovia, Płock and Czersk during 1262–1264, ruler over Bydgoszcz during 1268–1273, Duke of Inowrocław during 1271–1273, and Duke of Gniezno-Kalisz from 1273 until his death.

The General Charter of Jewish Liberties known as the Statute of Kalisz, and as the Kalisz Privilege, was issued by the Duke of Greater Poland Boleslaus the Pious on September 8, 1264 in Kalisz.

Sigismund I the Old King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania

Sigismund I of Poland, of the Jagiellon dynasty, reigned as King of Poland and also as the Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1506 until 1548. Earlier, Sigismund had been invested as Duke of Silesia. A successful monarch and a great patron of arts, he established Polish suzerainty over Ducal Prussia and incorporated the duchy of Mazovia into the Polish state, securing the nation's wealth, culture and power.

Jewish involvement in gentile society began during the Age of Enlightenment. Haskalah, the Jewish movement supporting the adoption of enlightenment values, advocated an expansion of Jewish rights within European society. Haskalah followers advocated "coming out of the ghetto", not just physically but also mentally and spiritually.

Age of Enlightenment European cultural movement of the 18th century

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".


The Haskalah, often termed Jewish Enlightenment was an intellectual movement among the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe, with certain influence on those in Western Europe and the Muslim world. It arose as a defined ideological worldview during the 1770s, and its last stage ended around 1881, with the rise of Jewish nationalism.

Ghetto Part of a city in which members of a minority group live

A ghetto, often the ghetto, is a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, typically as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Ghettos are often known for being more impoverished than other areas of the city. Versions of the ghetto appear across the world, each with their own names, classifications, and groupings of people.

On September 28, 1791, revolutionary France became the second country of the world, after Poland 500 years earlier, to emancipate its Jewish population. The 40,000 Jews living in France at the time were the first to confront the opportunities and challenges offered by emancipation. The civic equality that the French Jews attained became a model for other European Jews. [5] Newfound opportunities began to be provided to the Jewish people, and they slowly pushed toward equality in other parts of the world. In 1796 and 1834, the Netherlands granted the Jews equal rights with gentiles. Napoleon freed the Jews in areas he conquered in Europe outside France (see Napoleon and the Jews). Greece granted equal rights to Jews in 1830. But, it was not until the revolutions of the mid-19th century that Jewish political movements would begin to persuade governments in Great Britain, Central and Eastern Europe to grant equal rights to Jews. [6]

Napoleon and the Jews rights of Jews under Napoleonic reforms

Revolutionary France enacted laws that first emancipated Jews in France, establishing them as equal citizens to other Frenchmen. In countries that Napoleon Bonaparte's ensuing First French Empire conquered during the Napoleonic Wars, he emancipated the Jews and introduced other ideas of freedom from the French Revolution. For instance, he overrode old laws restricting Jews to reside in ghettos, as well as lifting laws that limited Jews' rights to property, worship, and certain occupations.

Emancipation movements

The early stages of Jewish emancipation movements were part of the general progressive efforts to achieve freedom and rights for minorities. While this was a movement, it was also a pursuit for equal rights. [7] Thus, the emancipation movement would be a long process. The question of equal rights for Jews was tied to demands for constitutions and civil rights in various nations. Jewish statesmen and intellectuals, such as Heinrich Heine, Johann Jacoby, Gabriel Riesser, Berr Isaac Berr, and Lionel Nathan Rothschild, worked with the general movement toward liberty and political freedom, rather than for Jews specifically. [8]

Heinrich Heine German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was a German-Jewish poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside of Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Heine's later verse and prose are distinguished by their satirical wit and irony. He is considered part of the Young Germany movement. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities—which, however, only added to his fame. He spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris.

Johann Jacoby Prussian politician

Johann Jacoby was a Left-wing German-Jewish politician.

Gabriel Riesser German politician

Gabriel Riesser was a German politician and lawyer.

In 1781, the Prussian civil servant Christian Wilhelm Dohm published the famous script Über die bürgerliche Emanzipation der Juden. Dohm disproves the antisemitic stereotypes and pleads for equal rights for Jews. Till this day, it is called the Bible of Jewish emancipation. [9]

In the face of persistent anti-Jewish incidents and blood libels, such as the Damascus affair of 1840, and the failure of many states to emancipate the Jews, Jewish organizations formed to push for the emancipation and protection of their people. The Board of Deputies of British Jews under Moses Montefiore, the Central Consistory in Paris, and the Alliance Israelite Universelle all began working to assure the freedom of Jews.

Jewish emancipation, implemented under Napoleonic rule in French occupied and annexed states, suffered a setback in many member states of the German Confederation following the decisions of the Congress of Vienna. In the final revision of the Congress on the rights of the Jews, the emissary of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Johann Smidt – unauthorised and unconsented to by the other parties – altered the text from "The confessors of Jewish faith are preserved the rights already conceded to them in the confederal states", by replacing a single word, which entailed serious consequences, into: "The confessors of Jewish faith are preserved the rights already conceded to them by the confederal states." [10] A number of German states used the altered text version as legal grounds to reverse the Napoleonic emancipation of Jewish citizens. The Prussian emissary Wilhelm von Humboldt and the Austrian Klemens von Metternich promoted the preservation of Jewish emancipation, as maintained by their own countries, but were not successful in others. [8]

During the Revolutions of 1848, Jewish emancipation was granted by the Basic Rights of the Frankfurt Parliament (Paragraph 13), which said that civil rights were not to be conditional on religious faith. But only some German states introduced the Frankfurt parliamentary decision as state law, such as Hamburg; other states were reluctant. Important German states, such as Prussia (1812), Württemberg (1828), Electorate of Hesse (1833), and Hanover (1842), had already emancipated their Jews as citizens. By doing so, they hoped to educate the gentiles, and terminate laws that sought to oppress the Jews. [11] Although the movement was mostly successful; some early emancipated Jewish communities continued to suffer persisting or new de facto, though not legal, discrimination against those Jews trying to achieve careers in public service and education. Those few states that had refrained from Jewish emancipation were forced to do so by an act of the North German Federation on 3 July 1869, or when they acceded to the newly united Germany in 1871. The emancipation of all Jewish Germans was reversed by Nazi Germany from 1933 until the end of World War II. [6]

Dates of emancipation

In some countries, emancipation came with a single act. In others, limited rights were granted first in the hope of "changing" the Jews "for the better." [12]

Years when legal equality was granted to Jews
1791 France [13]
1796 Batavian Republic
1808 Grand Duchy of Hesse
1808 Westphalia [14]
1811 Grand Duchy of Frankfurt [15]
1812 Mecklenburg-Schwerin [16]
1812 Prussia [17]
1828 Württemberg
1830 Belgium
1830 Greece
1831 Jamaica [18]
1832 Canada (Lower Canada (Quebec))
1833 Electorate of Hesse
1834 United Netherlands
1839 Ottoman Empire [19]
1842 Kingdom of Hanover
1848 Nassau [20]
1849 Hamburg [21]
1849 Denmark [22]
1856 Switzerland
1858 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
1861 Italy
1862 Baden
1863 Holstein [23]
1864 Free City of Frankfurt
1867 Austria-Hungary
1869 North German Confederation
1870 Sweden-Norway (1851 in Norway)
1871 Germany [24]
1877 New Hampshire (last US state to enact full emancipation of Catholics, Jews, and other non-Protestants)
1878 Bulgaria
1878 Serbia
1890 Brazil [25]
1910 Spain [ citation needed ]
1911 Portugal
1917 Russia
1918 Finland
1923 Romania


The emancipation and the practice of Judaism

The emancipation disrupted the relationship the Jews had with their religion, which could not govern any longer all the actions in their lives. Many considered a practice of Judaism more closely to the lifestyle of their non-Jewish fellow citizens. The emancipation in France, Italy, Germany, at least during the Empire, permitted many Jews to leave the ghettos and contribute, as a result of the Haskalah, to the development of Reform during the 19th century. The emancipation contributed moreover to the assimilation of Jews and sometimes to their cultural disappearance when Jews merged through marriage in the surrounding society. It was not until Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch defined a modern vision of orthodox Judaism, enabling orthodox Jews to participate fully in a society. [6] [ not in citation given ][ clarification needed ] Ultimately, emancipation immersed the Jews into a new culture. In doing so, Jews were able to not only see themselves as members of a religious sect, but also as citizens within society. At the same time, however, some [ who? ] were concerned that leaders within the Jewish movement were seeking to position Judaism with an approach catered toward a new Western civilization. [11]

See also

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  1. Eli Barnavi. "Jewish Emancipation in Western Europe". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  2. Shmuel Ettinger. "Jewish Emancipation and Enlightenment" . Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  3. "Socialism". Jewish Virtual Library . American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise . Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. Beauchamp, Zack (14 May 2018). "What is Zionism?". . Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  5. Paula E. Hyman, The Jews of Modern France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), pp. 17–18.
  6. 1 2 3 "Emancipation". Jewish Virtual Library . Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  7. Nicholas, de Lange; Freud-Kandel, Miri; C. Dubin, Lois. Modern Judaism. Oxford University Press. pp. 30–40.
  8. 1 2 Sharfman, Glenn R., "Jewish Emancipation", in Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions
  9. Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger: Europa im Jahrhundert der Aufklärung. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2006 (2nd edition), 268.
  10. In the German original: "Es werden den Bekennern des jüdischen Glaubens die denselben in [von, respectively] den einzelnen Bundesstaaten bereits eingeräumten Rechte erhalten." Cf. Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', p. 317. Emphasis not in the original. Reprint of the edition revised by the author: Berlin: Arani, 1998, ISBN   3-7605-8673-2.
  11. 1 2 C. Dubin, Lois. Modern Judaism. Oxford University Press. pp. 32–33.
  12. "THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN ANTI-SEMITISM: images pg.21". Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  13. Jean Jaurès. "Law Relating to the Jews 1791". Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  14. However, reversed by the Westphalian successor states in 1815. Cf. for introduction and reversion Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', p. 287. Reprint of the edition of last hand: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN   3-7605-8673-2.
  15. Reversed at the dissolution of the grand duchy in 1815.
  16. On February 22, cf. Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', p. 297. Reprint of the edition of last hand: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN   3-7605-8673-2.
  17. On March 11, cf. Heinrich Graetz, Geschichte der Juden von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart: 11 vols., Leipzig: Leiner, 1900, vol. 11: 'Geschichte der Juden vom Beginn der Mendelssohnschen Zeit (1750) bis in die neueste Zeit (1848)', pp. 297seq. Reprint of the edition of last hand: Berlin: arani, 1998, ISBN   3-7605-8673-2.
  18. Finding Your Roots, PBS, September 23, 2014
  19. By order of the Sultan, equal rights were granted to non-Muslims, including Jews, in 1839 as part of the Tanzimat reforms.
  20. Introduced on December 12, 1848.
  21. By introduction of the basic freedoms as decided by the National Assembly, adopted for Hamburg's law on February 21, 1849.
  22. By the Constitution of Denmark of June 5, 1849.
  23. By law on the Affairs of the Jews in the Duchy of Holstein on July 14, 1863.
  24. For the status of Jews in the states, which united in 1871 to constitute Germany see the respective regulations of the principalities and states that preceded the 1871 unification of Germany.
  25. Since 1810 Jews already had partial freedom of religion, that was completely guaranteed in 1890 after the proclamation of the Republic