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Tamir Karkason

Tamir Karkason is a doctoral student at the Department of the History of the Jewish People and Contemporary Jewry and a Rottenstreich Fellow at the Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Currently, he is writing a dissertation entitled The Ottoman-Jewish Haskalah, 1839-1908: A Transformation in Western Anatolia, the Southern Balkans and Jerusalem Jewish Communities under the supervision of Prof. Yaron Ben-Naeh.

Ottoman-Jewish Maskilim (Enlighteners) and Their Austro-Hungarian Counterparts: A Case Study.

In the 18th Century, the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) movement first appeared in Central Europe. The members of this group, called Maskilim, joined forces in an enterprise of Jewish modernity, focusing on promoting the values of Enlightenment and educating the young generations in the spirit of productivization and Western culture.

During the 19th Century, the writings of the Jewish Enlighteners (Maskilim) trickled down to the Ottoman Balkans, mostly through the commerce paths passing in Vienna, Belgrade and Trieste. During 1850s, links between the first Ottoman Jewish Maskilim (especially Judah Jacob Néhama from Salonica, and Baruch Mitrani and Abraham Danon, both from Edirne) and their Austro-Hungarian Jewish colleagues – mostly from Vienna, Hungary and Galicia were already in place.

Correspondences between Ottoman and Central European Maskilim (usually in the Jewish Lingua Franca, Hebrew), ego-documents, press articles and book introductions are the sources through which I would review questions concerning the local Jewish Haskalah and the relations between the Ottoman and Central European Jewish Maskilim.

I examine how the geographic distance and mail services of the period affect the nature of interrelations between the two Jewish Maskilim groups, the types of books and knowledge were exchanged between the two groups, the imperial aspect expressed in the relations between the two Jewish Maskilim groups and the nature of the personal meetings between members of the two groups, taking place mostly in Vienna.

Furthermore, I inquire whether the Central European Maskilim tend to consider their Ottoman counterparts, members of the Oriental side in the colonial dichotomy, as equal interlocutors or whether they prefer to classify them as nothing but informants. I also research the extent to which the inter-Jewish solidarity dulled the edge of the colonial dichotomy between the two Jewish Maskilim groups and the effect of the location of the Ottoman Jewish Maskilim within Europe, although in its periphery, on the relationship between the two Maskilim groups.