When an American Jew produced: Judah David Eisenstein and the first Hebrew Encyclopedia
Oser, Asher C.
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Between 1907 and 1913, Judah David Eisenstein (1854–1956), an amateur scholar and entrepreneurial immigrant to New York City, produced the first modern Hebrew encyclopedia, Ozar Yisrael. The Ozar was in part a traditionalist response to Otsar Hayahdut: Hoveret l’dugma, a sample volume of an encyclopedia created by Asher Ginzberg (Ahad Ha’am)’s circle of cultural nationalists. However, Eisenstein was keen for his encyclopedia to have a veneer of objective and academic respectability. To achieve this, he assembled a global cohort of contributors who transcended religious and ideological boundaries, even as he retained firm editorial control. Through the story of the Ozar Yisrael, this dissertation highlights the role of America as an exporter of Jewish culture, raises questions about the borders between Haskalah and cultural nationalism, and reveals variety among Orthodox thinkers active in Jewish culture in America at the turn of the twentieth century.
Doctoral dissertation, PhD., Bernard Revel Graduate School, Open Access.
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