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April 28 , 2008

Role Model and Countermodel

The Golden Age of Iberian Jewry and German Jewish Culture during the Era of Emancipation


This book explores the “Golden Age” of Sephardic Jewry on the Iberian Peninsula and its perception in German Jewish culture during the era of emancipation. For Jews living in Germany, the history of Sephardic Jewry developed into a historical example with its distinctive valence and signature against the pressure to assimilate and the emergence of anti-Semitism in Germany. It provided, moreover, a forum to engage in internal dialogue amongst Jews and external dialogue with German majority society about challenging questions of religious, political, and national identity. In this respect, the perception of prominent Sephardic Jews as intercultural mediators was key to emphasizing the skills and values Jews had to offer to civilizations in the past. German Jews invoked this past significance in their case for a Jewish role in present and future societies, especially in Germany.

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