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Episode Info: owards PhD exam, and it’s not just a kind of navel-gazing either. It’s a means to comprehend broad cultural and social trends: in the case of Jewish history, the rise of historical consciousness and the application of historical narratives and arguments which underpinned the development of modern Jewish culture, religion, and politics. When we think about Jewish studies over the past two centuries we can look for instance to Leopold Zunz and his colleagues who launched the modern study of Jewish history in the 1820s under the banner of “Wissenschaft des Judentums,” or the science of Judaism—but it wasn’t just an academic subject or inquiry for them. Zunz and his friends hoped to wrest the study of the Jews from the hands of Christian figures who they saw, more or less correctly, as trying to missionize to the Jews. They also aimed to use Jewish studies to advance their program of emancipation and integration. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I would say, Jewish history has mattered because scholars and the public have looked to the Jewish past in order to justify all kinds of religious and political programs: The study of Jewish history played an important role in debates over religious reforms, inasmuch as historicizing Judaism and the Bible helped to explain and justify the possibility to make changes to ritual, liturgy, and religious practices in their own day. ANd Jewish historical narratives, in their various interpretations and presentations, also played critical roles in the development of new nationalist ideologies as well as opposition to nationalism. With all this in mind, we wanted to center historiography, and the past and future of Jewish studies, because it provides a window into the issues that Jewish History Matters as a project engages at large. Support Jewish History Matters...
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