The Origins of Modern Jewish Philanthropy, 1789–1860

Derek J. Penslar

in Shylock's Children

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225909
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925847 | DOI:
The Origins of Modern Jewish Philanthropy, 1789–1860

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This chapter talks about Jewish philanthropy, which is an arena of clashing approaches to the study of the Jewish past. These approaches are called “essentialist,” “contextualist,” and “comparative.” The modernization of Jewish philanthropy, like the modernization of Jewish economic perceptions, may have its roots in many lands across a broad swath of time, but it was most clearly adumbrated by the western Sephardim. It was the result of many factors: the economic dislocation of large segments of Ashkezanic Jewry, which brought them under the care of relatively prosperous Sephardim; changes in sensibility among the Sephardim about poverty, labor, and charity; and finally, the vast and tenuous nature of the Sephardic diaspora, which encouraged the development of a Jewish identity defined more by economic and philanthropic activity than by halakhic discourse and ritual observance.

Keywords: Jewish philanthropy; essentialist; contextualist; comparative; Sephardim; Ashkezanic Jewry; Sephardic diaspora; halakhic

Chapter.  14035 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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