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MOSES MENDELSSOHN AND THE ORIGINS OF JEWISH MODERNITY

June 13th, 2018

Moses Mendelssohn was simultaneously the most famous Jew in Europe during the eighteenth century, and the most controversial. He emerged from a nondescript family in northern Germany, going on to become a great Jewish scholar, well-versed in traditional Jewish subjects, as well as a respected philosopher and revered “man of wisdom”, widely known among Christian gentiles as “the Jewish Socrates.”

Who was Moses Mendelssohn, and how did he rise to such prominence? What were the central themes of his life? What was particularly unique about the eighteenth century that resulted in his notoriety? What is Moses Mendelssohn’s legacy, if any, and how is he viewed today by religious and irreligious Jews, and by gentiles?

Rabbi Dunner charts the remarkable life of this unusual man, revealing the hidden factors that created the perfect storm, resulting in yeshiva student Moshe of Dessau becoming the celebrated savant, Moses Mendelssohn of Berlin.

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