By Ronald Schechter

Enlightenment writers, revolutionaries, or even Napoleon mentioned and wrote approximately France's tiny Jewish inhabitants at nice size. Why was once there rather a lot brooding about Jews once they have been a minority of below one percentage and had little financial and almost no political energy? during this surprisingly wide-ranging examine of representations of Jews in eighteenth-century France--both through Gentiles and Jews themselves--Ronald Schechteroffers clean views at the Enlightenment and French Revolution, on Jewish historical past, and at the nature of racism and intolerance. knowledgeable through the newest old scholarship and by way of the insights of cultural idea, Obstinate Hebrews is an engaging story of cultural appropriation forged within the gentle of contemporary society's preoccupation with the "other." Schechter argues that the French paid realization to the Jews simply because wondering the Jews helped them examine common problems with the day. those incorporated the position of culture in faith, the perfectibility of human nature, nationwide identification, and the character of citizenship. In a end evaluating and contrasting the "Jewish query" in France with discourses approximately girls, blacks, and local americans, Schechter provocatively widens his inquiry, calling for a extra traditionally targeted method of those vital questions of distinction.

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Extra resources for Obstinate Hebrews: Representations of Jews in France, 1715-1815 (Studies on the History of Society and Culture)

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For Sieyes the nation was (among other things) “a body of associates living under a common law,” 56 and in this respect the Jews of Old Regime France could scarcely have been a part of the French nation, since they were subject both to internal Jewish law and to laws of exception defining their rights and obligations in the kingdom. Indeed, the varying (though not greatly varying) letters patent under which the various Jewish communities lived would seem to justify calling them nations within the nation.

11 On the death of Stanislas in 1766, the duchy of Lorraine became a French province, as stipulated in a treaty following the War of the Polish Succession. The French crown converted the Jews’ fiscal obligations toward the dukes into royal taxes, and by the time of the Revolution was collecting 16,000 livres a year in protection money. It recognized the authority of the rabbinate in civil matters between Jews, charged syndics with the responsibility of collecting taxes, and in 1784 and 1787 authorized the construction of synagogues in Lunéville and Nancy, respectively.

The following year Léopold gave the Jews a quasi-official status by issuing letters of toleration to 73 families in specific locations, but he ordered the expulsion of all Jews who had emigrated to Lorraine since 1680 and soon required Jews to live in restricted quarters of their designated cities and villages. Léopold’s widow, Elisabeth-Charlotte, increased the number of tolerated households to 180, but at the cost of 01-C2479 12/16/02 7:44 AM Page 23 A Nation within the Nation? 23 10,000 livres per year.

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