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The Realists - The Emancipation Movement
The accession of Alexander II to the throne marks a decisive moment in the history of the Russian empire. The fresh impetus that proceeded from the generous and liberal ideas encouraged by the Czar himself reached the ghetto.
Judah Leon Gordon - Conflict With Rabbinism
Judah Leon Gordon (1830-1892) was born at Wilna, of well-to-do parents, who were pious and comparatively enlightened. As was customary in his day, he received a Rabbinical education, but at the same time he was not permitted to neglect the study of the Bible and the classical Hebrew.
Reformers And Conservatives - The Two Extremes
Though Gordon was the most distinguished, he was not the only representative of the anti-Rabbinic school in the neo-Hebrew literature. The decline of liberalism in official state circles, and the frustration of every hope of equality, had their effect in reshaping the policy pursued by educated Jews. Up to this time they had cherished no desire exceptfor external emancipation and to assimilate with their neighbors of other faiths.
Perez Smolenskin - National Progressive Movement
Perez Smolenskin was born, in 1842, at Monas tryshchina, a little market town near Mohilew. His father, a poor and an unfortunate man, who was not able to support his wife and six children successfully, was forced to leave his family on account of a slanderous accusation brought against him by a Polish priest.
The Contributors To Ha-shahar
Ha-Shahar soon became the centre of a hot crusade against obscurantism. The propaganda it carried on was all the more effectual as it opposed an out-of-date Judaism in the name of a national regeneration, the deathless ideal of the Jewish people.
The Novels Of Smolenskin
Smolenskin owed his vast popularity and his influence on his contemporaries only in part to his work as a journalist. What brought him close to the people were his realistic novels, which occupy the highest place in modern Hebrew literature. Smolenskin's first piece of fiction, Ha-Gemul (The Recompense) , was published at Odessa, in 1868, on a subject connected with the Polish insurrection.
Contemporaneous Literature
The years 1881-1882 mark off a distinct era in the history of the Jewish people. The revival of anti-Semitism in Germany, the unexpected renewal of persecutions and massacres in Russia and Roumania, the outlawing of millions of human beings, whose situation grew less tenable from day to day in those two countries such were the occurrences that disconcerted the most optimistic.
A glance at modern Hebrew literature as a whole reveals a striking tendency in its development, at once unexpected and inevitable. The humanist ideal, which stood sponsor at its rebirth, bore within itself a germ of dissolution. For national and religious aims it desired to substitute the idea of liberty and equality. Sooner or later it would have had to end in assimilation.
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