Carsten Schapkow

Role Model and Countermodel

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

Lexington Books 2015

New Books in European StudiesNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & Faith September 19, 2016 Bernice Heilbrunn

Why were German Jews so fascinated by Iberian Sephardic history? In Role Model and Countermodel: The Golden Age of Iberian Jewry and German Jewish...

Why were German Jews so fascinated by Iberian Sephardic history? In Role Model and Countermodel: The Golden Age of Iberian Jewry and German Jewish Culture during the Era of Emancipation (Lexington Books, 2015), University of Oklahoma Professor Dr. Carsten Schapkow looks beyond the typical model of German-Jewish assimilation in response to emancipation in German lands a failed model, according to many to uncover the paradigm that Jews in Germany really spoke, wrote, and dreamed about during the long 19th century: the history of the Iberian Sephardic Jews as their model.

From popular journalists and authors such as Heinrich Graetz and Ludwig Philippson to elite academics, from scientists to philosophers, Jews in Germany imagined their future according to their understanding of Jewish life under Muslims and Christians in Spain and Portugal during the so-called Golden Age and the period of la convivencia. According to their understanding of that era in Iberia, Jews had served as cultural mediators, their language and other skills enabling Jews to benefit the majority culture. Jews integrated into the majority culture, according to this view, without sacrificing their identity. They were able to make a difference not only within Jewish history, that describes this era as a Golden Age, but also be regarded as important participants in Iberian culture, diplomacy, science, and philosophy. Dr. Schapkow draws on an impressive variety of sources to prove his point.

Dr. Schapkow spoke to New Books in Jewish Studies from Germany, sharing very interesting insights into both the history of Iberian Jews and the history of German Jews offering a window onto extraordinarily engaging questions. Read this exceptional book!

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