Classical Knowledge, Power, and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Dutch Rabbinic Education

Tell me, o Muse, of the man . . .
— Homer
 

Francis Bacon’s belief that “knowledge is power” is one of the great epistemic mottos of all time. In early nineteenth-century Jewish Amsterdam, where civic emancipation had overturned the old corporate hierarchies, the rabbinic elite soon came to experience its merciless truth. In the newly established Kingdom of the Netherlands (1814), both their position and their expertise were pushed to the margins. To make things worse, the centralized organization of the newly constituted Israelite Denomination left no room for German-style Reform–Orthodox dualism. As a result, innovation and consolidation all took shape within a single, outwardly stable, yet inwardly polarized community, in which conservative rabbis and progressive lay executives vied for initiative and control. This perpetual state of discord posed high demands on a rabbi’s personal skills. It was no longer enough to be a competent teacher and judge; in order to survive, the rabbi had to become a kind of statesman. But what in his rabbinic experience would provide him with the wherewithal to become a politician? Continue reading “Classical Knowledge, Power, and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Dutch Rabbinic Education”

Histories of Knowledge around the Web

Monk leading stubborn donkey while reading book
“Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties” by Wordsworth Thompson (Boston, MA: L. Prang & Co., 1878), Library of Congress, PPOC, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016649779/.

Ten Links

  1. “Teaching Soviet Children the Language of Science and Technology” by Laura Todd at The Language of ‘Authoritarian’ Regimes, June 28, 2017
  2. “What We Can Learn from Fake News” by Paul J. Croce at the History News Network, July 23, 2017
  3. “How African American Activists are Influencing Latinos” by Aaron Fountain at Black Perspectives, July 25, 2017
  4. “An African American Pioneer in Greece: John Wesley Gilbert and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1890–1891” by John W. I. Lee at From the Archivist’s Notebook, August 1, 2017
  5. “The Forgotten World of Communist Bookstores” by Joshua Clarke Davis at Jacobin, August 11, 2017
  6. “The Significance of Scripts” by Elisabeth Chaghafi at Shakespeare’s World, August 24, 2017
  7. “The Racist Roots of Gynecology and What Black Women Birthed” by Sherronda J. Brown at Wear Your Voice, August 29, 2017
  8. “(In)Forming Revolution Series: Information Networks in the Age of Revolutions” at Age of Revolutions, September 4–29, 2017
  9. “How to Become a Doctor (in 1949)” by Allison Piazza at Books, Health, and History (New York Academy of Medicine), September 5, 2017
  10. “Race, Law & Literature—A New Course” by Eddie Bruce-Jones on his eponymously named blog, September 10, 2017