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Thu, 30 Nov


Great Hall (Ground Floor) KCL

The Jewish Eighteenth Century and the Transformative Year 1782

JHSE and KCL Theology & Religious Studies Department joint event

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The Jewish Eighteenth Century and the Transformative Year 1782
The Jewish Eighteenth Century and the Transformative Year 1782

Time & Location

30 Nov 2023, 18:00 – 20:00

Great Hall (Ground Floor) KCL , Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK

About the event

Tickets: Register for free via Eventbrite here:

Location: Great Hall, King’s Building (Ground Floor), King's College London (Strand Campus).

The lecture, ending at 7.15pm, will be followed by a reception.

The Eighteenth Century was the first modern century in Jewish history. The deep changes that took place in its course shaped the following generations, and many of its voices still reverberate today.

The twisting and fascinating biography of the eighteenth century from the viewpoint of the Jews of Europe emerges from paying attention to individual life stories, to bright and dark experiences, to voices of protest, and to aspirations for reform and personal and general happiness. The lecture will highlight one particular year: 1782. We will listen to optimistic and skeptical voices. Moses Mendelssohn, for example, a sensitive seismograph of the year 1782, went over a period of several months from feelings of enthusiasm and hope to the anguished fear that it would be impossible to overcome “barbarism”. If we look at the history of modern Jewish culture as a chessboard, then in 1782 most of the pieces were already laid out on the board. Trends that had emerged decades earlier now matured and developed. Thus, Jews in London experienced acculturation and secularization, the main trends of Jewish modernization, and they acutely felt the rift between the “new world” and the “old world” that divided the English community. In 1782 the various labels, the boundaries between the different groups and the topics that ignited controversy and struggles were already fixated with increasing clarity.

Shmuel Feiner is Professor Emeritus of Modern Jewish History at Bar Ilan University, Israel, and holds the Samuel Braun Chair for the History of the Jews in Germany. He is currently the Chairman of the Historical Society of Israel, editor of Zion: A Quarterly for Research in Jewish History, and a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. His lecture will be based on his recent “European biography” of the Eighteenth Century in two volumes: The Jewish Eighteenth Century: A European Biography, 1700-1750 (Hebrew 2017; English: Indiana University Press, 2020) and The Jewish Eighteenth Century: A European Biography, 1750-1800 (Hebrew 2021; English: Indiana University Press, 2023).

Among Professor Feiner’s numerous further publications are Haskalah and History: The Emergence of a Modern Jewish Historical Consciousness (Hebrew 1995; English: Littman Library, 2002); The Jewish Enlightenment (Hebrew 2002; English: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), Moses Mendelssohn (Hebrew 2005; English: Yale University Press, 2010) and The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth Century Europe (Hebrew, 2010; English: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). In previous years, Professor Feiner served as the Chairman of the Leo Baeck Institute, Jerusalem (2007–2019); Vice President of the International Leo Baeck Institute; and as Visiting Professor at Yale University (2011) and Goethe University Frankfurt (2012).

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