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The Jewish Community

Decent Essays
For many members of the Jewish community, the nature of their identity has been a question that has shaped their position in the modern world. Does the term Jew only consider a group of religious followers? Or does the classification of Jew have much broader nationalistic implications? The Jews of the Habsburg Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries, and more specifically in the crown land of Galicia, began to reexamine their political identities. As German Liberalism grew in popularity some members of the Galician Jewry began to see Jews, not only as a religious group, but as a nationality in its own right. These ideas stemmed from the reformist policies of Joesph II, Enlightenment ideals, and a brief revolutionary period. It was…show more content…
Upon its annexation into the Habsburg Empire, Galicia had a Jewish population of 215,477. Jewish Historian William O. McCagg Jr. asserts that in 1785, Jews made up nearly nine percent of the Galician population, and nearly seven-teen percent of the Capitol region of Lwów. Galicia’s Jewish population surged after years of Jewish expulsion across the Empire. Many exiled Jews migrated to Galicia from Germany and Vienna. These past expulsions left large portions of the Galician population with a sense of loss. They had no true home, and were not fully welcomed in Galicia. They did not speak the same language as their Polish counterparts, and lived in small isolated communities. This disenfranchisement would later lead to their larger identity crisis and to the surge of Jewish Nationalism. Another critical factor that would push the Galician Jews down the road to Nationalism was the Habsburg State’s legislative response to the Jewish presence in the crown land. This facet of the Jewish question is more convoluted, and will take a more in-depth examination in order to fully understand both the motives of the Habsburg State and its subsequent effect on the Jewish people. The Monarchy of the Habsburg Empire implemented a series of reformative policies that would push the Galician Jews to assimilate with the secular population. This was done in an attempt to strengthen the Empire’s economy, by better harnessing the Jewish
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