Despite the significant (and not always subtle) differences that exist among and between various

1000 WordsApr 23, 20194 Pages
Despite the significant (and not always subtle) differences that exist among and between various Jewish populations, Jews have long been thought of as a highly-cohesive social group, with shared values and loyalties that cut across geographic, linguistic and other lines. Drilling down into the historical record, however, one discovers a much different reality. In this essay, I will seek to address and dispel the notion that those who subscribe to the Jewish faith have always moved in lockstep with one another. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the concept of Jewish singularity is in fact a myth. Some clear examples of this are found in Europe. Under the ancien régime in France, French Jewry was marked by division (Graetz,…show more content…
There was a considerable gulf between these more assimilated Sephardic Jews and the Ashkenazi Jews. In fact, the Sephardim looked upon the Ashkenazim as less French, less refined and less virtuous (Jaher, p. 73). Conversely, the Ashkenazim thought of themselves as more faithful to Jewish laws and customs (Jaher, p. 73). The distinctions and antagonisms between the Ashkenazim and Sephardim came to a head during the National Assembly debate on the status of Jews in France, which occurred on the eve of the French revolution in 1788; every Jewish delegation negotiated separately. The Sephardic delegates went so far as to fight legislation that would have grouped them together with the Ashkenazim, and they told Abbé Grégoire that the Ashkenazi campaign for citizenship was harming their own chances (Jaher, p. 128). Many in the French community were also inclined to separate the status of the Sephardim from that of the Ashkenazim. Jews of Portuguese origin, for example, were said to have “participated in the rights of the bourgeoisie” and to have acted like “citizens” of France (Jaher, p. 128). Following the emancipation and ensuing acculturation of French Jews, there was another notable case of division among the Jewish people in Europe. During this period, there was a significant
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