In 1781, Christian Wilhelm Dohm published On the Civic Improvement of the Jews. This work laid out a program for the reform of the Jewish community in Europe in accordance with the principles of Enlightenment. Dohm’s argument proved to be highly influential with Jewish as well as non-Jewish readers. Many of Dohm’s ideas would soon be implemented in the Edict of Toleration, issued by the emperor Joseph II of Austria, in 1782. Analyze both documents. Answer the following questions:
What, in Dohm’s opinion, is the main reason for “the moral corruption” of the Jews? Who is to blame? Why?
What is Dohm’s solution? What steps does he propose to bring about “the moral improvement of the Jews”? Be specific.
What are the similarities between Joseph II’s edict and Dohm’s work? What general principles and specific guidelines do they share?
Reflect on broader implications of these documents for understanding the transformation of Jewish life during the age of Enlightenment.
Use information learned from the textbook and this week’s readings in your discussion.
A well-written paper will have a concise introduction to the general topic of the paper, a clear thesis statement, and a carefully developed argument with specific examples supporting the thesis statement.
Your paper should be written according to the following guidelines.
Your paper should be no longer than three pages (typed, double-spaced) and should concisely, clearly express the results of careful thought and prior drafts. In the paper you turn in, don’t waste space with filler material.
Avoid generalities not supported with specific analysis and evidence. Anchor your paper in careful analysis of the documents, not in broad generalities about Jews and Judaism. You should cite specific passages from the documents to support your argument.
Do not, however, include long quotations of passages. You are writing for an audience that has read these texts. Instead, quote only what is absolutely necessary for your analysis.
Make every paragraph, sentence, and word count. In three pages you don’t have space to waste.
The first paragraph of your paper should include a succinct statement of what you are going to argue to answer the questions posed by this assignment. The following paragraphs should develop your argument to support the thesis that you have stated in your opening paragraph. Your final paragraphs should build on your argument to lead the reader into some implications of your thesis and argument for understanding the transformation of Jewish life during the age of Enlightenment. Again, your argument must be supported by specific evidence from the documents. You are trying to persuade the reader to agree with your thesis statement.
This assignment is not a research paper, but you should (as appropriate for your argument) interact with the readings and class discussions for the course. You are also free (but not required) to pursue outside reading. In any case, do not pass off the ideas of others as your own. Footnote your use of the ideas of others. Use the note method of citation.
In general, material from the Internet has little value in lending support to your argument because most of the material has not been critically evaluated. Anyone can say anything on a Web page. Before you use information from the Internet, you must carefully evaluate its reliability. You have to ask yourself, for example, from where the information is coming. Don’t believe something just because it is on a Web page. You will lose points on your paper if you uncritically use material from the Internet. If you choose to include material from the Internet, you must cite the source of the information.
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