Broadening Jewish History

BookBroadening Jewish History

Broadening Jewish History

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


January 2nd, 2014



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In Broadening Jewish History Todd Endelman seeks to expand the horizons of modern Jewish historiography by focusing on ‘ordinary’ rather than exceptional Jews, arguing that what ordinary people did or felt can do more to deepen our understanding of Jewish history than what a few exceptional individuals thought and wrote. He also makes a strong case for comparative history, showing convincingly that only a comparison across national borders can identify the Germanness of German Jewish history or the Englishness of English Jewish history, and thereby reveal what is unique about each. This innovative collection of historiographical essays and case studies redefines the area under consideration and deftly restates the need for Jewish social history to counterbalance the current focus on cultural studies.

The essays offer an important examination of the major trends in the writing of modern Jewish history and the assumptions that have guided historians in their narration of the Jewish past. Professor Endelman shows in particular how the two watershed events of twentieth-century Jewish history—the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel—influenced Jewish historiography for decades thereafter. He also demonstrates how progressive integration into the scholarly framework of American academia has shaped both the form and the content of Jewish historical research.

Each of the case studies focuses on a largely unknown figure whose career illustrates the often tortuous paths of integration and acceptance that Jews faced. Some achieved fleeting fame but many of the people who populate the volume remain altogether unknown, their histories recoverable only as statistics.

In its wide-ranging analysis of trends in recent historical writing and its treatment of key themes and issues, this book is essential reading for professional historians, students, and indeed all those with an interest in Jewish history.


'One of the world's leading authorities on the history of European and specifically of British Jewry . . . This volume is subtitled Towards a Social History of Ordinary Jews thereby charting directions others must take if such social histories are ever to be written. The raw material is there, but discovering its location and divining its meaning are no easy tasks. Endelman has provided a guidebook and a manual.'
Geoffrey Alderman, Jewish Chronicle

Author Information

Todd M. Endelman is the William Haber Professor of Modern Jewish History at the University of Michigan.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
Note on Transliteration12
Part I: Methods and Perspectives30
Chapter 1. Making Jews Modern: Jewish Self-Identification and West European Categories of Belonging32
Chapter 2. The Legitimization of the Diaspora Experience62
Chapter 3. The Englishness of Jewish Modernity in England78
Chapter 4. Welcoming Ex-Jews into the Jewish Historiographical Fold95
Part II: Comparisons106
Chapter 5. The Social and Political Context of Conversion in Germany and England: 1870–1914108
Chapter 6. Jewish Self-Hatred in Germany and England128
Chapter 7. German Jews in Victorian England158
Part III: Marginal Jews182
Chapter 8. The Chequered Career of ‘Jew’ King184
Chapter 9. The Emergence of Disraeli’s Jewishness214
Chapter 10. Benjamin Disraeli and the Myth of Sephardi Superiority238
Chapter 11. The Impact of the Converso Experience on English Sephardim252
Chapter 12. The Frankaus of London261
Chapter 13. Jewish Converts in Nineteenth-Century Warsaw299
Chapter 14. Memories of Jewishness328