Religious and Communal Life

Robert Liberles

in Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780195171648
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199871346 | DOI:
Religious and Communal Life

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter shows that during the 17th and 18th centuries, a number of changes influenced the religious lives of Jews and Christians alike. The Reformation enhanced the sense of individuality, and the printing press made knowledge more accessible. Historians who see Judaism either remaining static or moving uniformly toward the surrounding society fail to discern the complexities and inconsistencies that emerged within German Jewry. Although critics complained repeatedly that synagogue services revealed an atmosphere of religious indifference, enhanced notions of piety influenced both public and private dimensions of religious life. Some individuals — especially women — found new outlets to express their spirituality through personal prayer for themselves and their loved ones. By 1780, the meaning of being an observant Jew was not the same as it had been a century earlier.

Keywords: German Jews; religious life; synagogues

Chapter.  6083 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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