The Issues That Led To The Emancipation Of Jews

1395 words - 6 pages

The Issues that Led to the Emancipation of Jews

The transition of Jews through history is one, which is complex and took place over a long period. There are many factors, which contributed to the change of the status of Jews within their world and changes in their status as well; these changes affected the religious and cultural values of European Jews, which lead to an alteration in their own perception, as well as the surrounding populace. There are several opinions as to how non- Jews perceive the issues that led to Emancipation of Jewish people. Prior to the period of Emancipation there were three main characteristics which defined the traditional Jewish communities of Europe. These three aspects are community, autonomy and torah (religion). In relation to Torah, there is a common yearning to return to their homeland in Eretz Yisrael. As it is known from the Greek era, the purpose of a state or community was to glorify one's own religion and as a result, Jews could not be members of a Christian state. Therefore, they had no choice but to form their own communities within the larger Christian State. A Jew is a member of the Jewish nation and people and religion is what defined your life and place in society. Virtually everything revolved around the community; decisions were made with the impact of the community in mind. An essential aspect of this community was the conceptions of ghettos; Jews lived, worked, and played in these ghettos. These ghettos kept the Jewish community contained, and also provided a sense of separatism from outside influences. "The point can also be made that separation was in fact a contributing factor to healthy relations (between Jews and non- Jews)" with their concern for lack of clear boundaries, the ghetto kept boundaries clear and fears in check" . If one did not live in a community, one did not have an identity. This was especially important in the case of ex-communication, because once one was ejected out of the community, it was almost impossible to join another. The notion of autonomy possibly was a result of the ghettos. Since Jews lived in these ghettos they were separate from the outside community. It was within the ghetto, which Jews were able to make and enforce their own laws and practices. However, there remained interrelations with the "outside" world, usually through the community leaders or representatives. This form of power gave Jewish leaders the ability to pursue endeavours, which they felt would benefit the Jewish community. The laws in these ghettos were based on Jewish law and were carried out by the Rabbis, spiritual leaders of the community or even recognised wise men who were elected into the position. It is important to remember that while the Jews lived in a self-governing entity, it remained within a particular framework set up by the local Christian authorities. The Torah (religion) was the common bond all Jews had; it was the Torah, which was the basis for...

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