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By Jeffrey Haus

Historians have usually characterised nineteenth-century French Jewry as mostly desirous to assimilate, or, at the least, passively accommodating to assimilation, with in simple terms the main conventional Jews rejecting the trimmings of French tradition. throughout the lens of Jewish fundamental and rabbinical schooling, writer Jeffrey Haus exhibits that even built-in French Jews sought to set limits on assimilation and struggled to maintain a feeling of Jewish strong point in France. demanding situations of Equality argues that Jewish leaders couched their perspectives in phrases that the govt may well comprehend and settle for, portraying a Judaism in line with the objective of cultural and political unification of the French country. whilst, their academic actions asserted the life of distinctively Jewish cultural house.

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Additional info for Challenges of Equality: Judaism, State, and Education in Nineteenth-Century France

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These problems became more difficult to avoid as the concept of educational utilité became even more closely identified with overcoming the perceived reluctance of French Jews toward integration. For many French officials—even for self-proclaimed philosemites like 35 CHAPTER 2 Cottard—Jews and Judaism in their present state were incompatible with French citizenship. If one accepted the common view that education represented the best road to Jewish integration, arguments for segregated school systems became even weaker.

19 Their inaction left the Jewish committee to search for funds on its own, generally with minimal success. Of the 110 communes in the Lower Rhine where Jews resided, only seven had government authorized Jewish primary schools. Of these seven, only four communal governments aided Jewish education: Haguenau, Wissembourg, Soultz, and Bischeim. 20 Larger Jewish communities also had trouble obtaining civic funding, even when public officials supported their efforts. Cottard reported in 1831 that even in Strasbourg, which had a relatively large Jewish population, the well-run Jewish school faced certain closure without government aid.

4 Persistent skepticism toward Jewish integration again raised the apparent paradox of separate Jewish education: how could Jews hope to integrate by schooling their children 29 CHAPTER 2 separately from everyone else? Cottard himself considered their progress meager. His solution called for changing the priorities of French education to encourage the growth of Jewish schools designed to mediate between French culture and traditional Jewish life. 5 Yet the situation in France during the 1830s remained distinct from those other contexts.

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