Front cover image for The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia : a historical reader

The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia : a historical reader

While much has been written about East European and German Jewry, relatively little attention has been given to the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia, although they played an important role in the industrial, economic, and cultural life of central Europe. This book examines the social and cultural history of the Jewish community in Czechoslovakia from the Age of Enlightenment to the middle of the twentieth century. From family histories, newspaper and magazine articles, wills, and letters, Wilma Iggers has culled descriptions of life, customs, and local color; portrayals of important individuals and families; stories of individuals depicting the transition of a culture and a people from the Middle Ages to modern times; an examination of complaints about the deterioration of the religious communities and of religious instruction; and the history of anti-Semitism. Practically all reports reflect the difficult struggle for survival as Jews. The texts also address special legislation regarding the Jews, industrialization and urbanization, changes in religious and familial structures, growing involvement in the culture and politics of the worldly communities, cultural assimilation, changes in stereotypes about the Jews, and the effects of political forces from outside. The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia begins with the expulsion of the Jews from Prague by Empress Maria Theresa in 1744, an event which caused a shock that remained in the Jewish consciousness for a long time. The book concludes with texts from the middle of the twentieth century dealing with the most recent generation of Bohemian and Moravian Jews. Despite fluctuations and radical breaks, the time span from 1744 to 1952 constitutes a single unit that encompasses striking cultural and economic developments as well as anti-Semitism and cynicism unmatched even in the Middle Ages. With their strong emotional ties to the land of their birth, Bohemian and Moravian Jews are closer to the Central and West Europeans than to the Jews from Eastern Europe. Although Jews are often criticized for adapting themselves easily to other countries - meaning that they have no real roots - their strong emotional ties to their countries of origin are clearly expressed in a number of documents included in this book
Print Book, English, ©1992
Wayne State University Press, Detroit, ©1992