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Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of PolandA History of Conflict$
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Marcin Wodzinski

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113089

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113089.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of Poland

Marcin Wodziński

, Sarah Cozens, Agnieszka Mirowska
Liverpool University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the conflict between representatives of the Jewish Enlightenment (the Haskalah) and its rival hasidic movement, which has been seen in the historical literature as one of the most important debates to occupy Jewish society in central and eastern Europe in the modern age. Indeed, the earliest studies devoted to this question made their appearance at the dawn of modern Jewish historiography. However, a closer reading of such studies reveals that the overwhelming majority of references to the ‘age-old hostility’ of enlightened Jews to hasidism are based on stereotypes that often obscure a proper understanding of the sources. This book analyses attitudes towards hasidism among a few famous representatives of the Polish Haskalah, from the first enlightened comments concerning hasidism at the end of the eighteenth century to the demise of the Haskalah and its successors at the start of the twentieth century. It also looks at the ideas, concepts, and prejudices of a broad section of the maskilim among Polish Jews.

Keywords:   Jewish Enlightenment, Haskalah, hasidic movement, enlightened Jews, hasidism, Polish Haskalah, maskilim, Polish Jews

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