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    STUDIA HISTORIA - Issue no. 1 / 2004  

  Abstract:  The Enlightenment Heritage in the Culture of the Jews in Romania (the 19th century). In the 19th century, the culture of the Jews in Romania witnessed the penetration of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) ideas, chiefly in the field of education, as well as of the guiding principles of Wissenschaft des Judentums, which approached the Jewish spiritual heritage from a modern scientific perspective in order to demonstrate the universal import of this tradition and its capacity to adjust the modern requirements. The Haskalah ideas penetrated the Jewish world of the Romanian Principalities against a background of economic integration and partial opening towards the surrounding society, when the cultural-religious basis was still solid. Their impact was not very strong on the Moldavian communities, more conservative and attached to tradition, while in Wallachia, after the first years of cultural effervescence, marked by the distinguished personality of dr. Iulius Barasch, the intellectual elite found itself in the midst of the struggle for emancipation, which consumed all its energies. Thus, Haskalah was not able to coagulate ideologically or express itself in a literature of ideas. We may rather speak of several prevailingly practical initiatives, comparable with the Enlightenment promoted by the Romanian elite in the 3rd-4th decades of the century, chiefly focused on pragmatic issues and the urgent need to spread knowledge and set up the main cultural institutions. The Haskalah ideas were manifested in an impulse of social generosity, which urged the Jewish men of culture to introduce civilization, to educate and enlighten their coreligionists: the "inner reform" without abandoning their spiritual identity was their main concern.  
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