How European Jews Went From Touting Assimilation To Embracing Zionism

How European Jews Went From Touting Assimilation To Embracing Zionism


“The Jewish question can only be solved by the disappearance of the Jewish race,” declared the prominent European Jewish financier and philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch in 1889 in the pages of The New York Herald, “which will inevitably be accomplished by the amalgamation of Christians and Jews.”

Hirsch’s proclamation reverberated throughout the Jewish world on both sides of the Atlantic, convulsing both traditional and liberal communities already struggling to stay grounded in tumultuous times. Indeed, in the decades before Zionism took hold of the Jewish imagination, with the winds of nationalism and imperialism blowing at gale force, devising a stable structure for Jewish longevity and thriving on the continent was no easy task.

Hirsch’s assimilationist posture reflected his own background: As a prosperous, aristocratic

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