The Making of Western Jewry, 1600-1819
In a broad sweep from central Europe to Ireland and from the 16th to the early 19th century, this unusual work puts the Jewish community and its rabbinic and “lay” leaders at the center of Jewish history. Of surpassing value is Kochan’s treatment of the community not only as a religious but also as a political unit. It shows the community at grips with the Reformation and the introduction of the ghetto system in the Italian states. Kochan’s analysis of the clash of interests between the few wealthy and the multitude of poor Jews raises doubts about the whole notion of “community.” The later chapters critically examine the policy of emancipation as pursued by the Jewish leadership in France and the German and Italian states during the wars of the French revolution and the Napoleonic period. This section discusses the failure of Jewish diplomacy at the Congress of Vienna. A final chapter expounds the emergence of Orthodoxy in terms of the tumultuous changes in Jewish society over these two centuries.