Haskalah ( השכלה ) (also: Haskalah ) comes from the Hebrew root word שכל skl, resulting among other things, the word Sechel ( mind) is derived. Haskalah means of education, enlightenment and refers in particular to the Jewish, emanating from Berlin movement of the Enlightenment 1770-1880. A Vordenkerposition took the famous philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.


During the 18th century, the Jewish community was in a cultural crisis. She fell apart, which was accompanied by the loss of authority of the rabbis. In order to solve the problems created different movements, such as the Haskalah or Hasidism. Its origin was the Haskalah [ translated "education" ] in the Jewish Berlin bourgeoisie, which was inspired by the writings especially of the French Enlightenment and given the - by the historic and economic development -driven - change the social structures feared a further isolation of Judaism. The legal basis was given the Haskalah first in France by the " Assemblée constituante " that on 27 September 1791 Jews full citizenship zusprach. The Haskalah played in the process of Jewish emancipation as a mediator between the elites of the Christian majority societies and the Jewish communities in Europe a prominent role. She also found support among a few Christians and " enlightened despots " who wanted to integrate the minority of the population.

Four different definitions of the term are possible: as an activity term " enlightenment ", as " epochal term ", as the epoch of Jewish Enlightenment or Jewish Enlightenment movement.

The main objectives were directed towards secularization, ie the separation of religion and state, and opening into the Christian majority society by preparing individual and institutional contacts and introduction to Jewish beliefs. Here, a tension between the striving for renewal of Judaism and of confrontation with the Jewish orthodoxy developed. The Age of Enlightenment is generally dated to 1700 and had its base in Amsterdam. The beginning of the Enlightenment movement, however, is set to 1770 with the activities of Moses Mendelssohn and his circle, albeit between an "early" Haskalah, so the Enlightenment movement within the Jewish establishment and a " Prussian " movement ( extending it to non-Jewish circles) under Moses Mendelssohn must be distinguished. The Jewish reconnaissance aircraft (designation: maskil 1783 ) distinguished himself through his activities ( publicity, public opinions, participate in the discussions, material and financial support) but also by its level of education (usually a university degree ) from.

The bourgeois revolution in Western Europe on the one hand connected the hoped-for emancipation of the Jewish population, at the same time it is a modern anti-Semitism.


Important representatives ( Maskilim ) of the Haskalah in Germany were:

  • Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) was a well with non-Jews recognized philosopher. On the one hand he could prevent their expulsion with its defense of the Dresden Jews in 1777. On the other hand, he has ( in Hebrew letters ) and the supervision of the Biur acquired by raising the level of knowledge of Judaism so far only talmudic formed mainly with his German translation of the Bible ( a grammatical bible explanation ) lasting merits and both the German and the Hebrew language sustainable lent impetus. Mendelssohn, Lessing served as a model for the protagonist of his verse drama Nathan the Wise.
  • David Friedländer (1750-1834) founded in 1778 the first Jewish Free School in Berlin, the education program of the Haskalah was prescribed and made ​​a counterpart to traditional education in the cheder.
  • Isaac Euchel (1756-1804) was editor of the Hebrew Enlightenment journal Ha - Meassef, writer, publisher and founder of several companies of the Jewish Enlightenment. Euchel fought for the renewal of the Hebrew language and a reform of Judaism.
  • Rahel Varnhagen (1771-1833) offered her literary salon in Berlin a center of German Romantic literature (→ salon of Rahel Varnhagen ). In her letters she stood up for the rights of women and Jews.
  • Israel Jacobson (1768-1828) was a theologian and founder of schools (→ Jacobson school).
  • Julius Fürst (1805-1873) was the first Jewish professor at the University of Leipzig. In his publications (eg in the journal The Orient, whose editor he was) he promoted the scientific exploration of the cultural, linguistic and literary roots of Judaism.

In Russia there were in the 19th century, important representatives of Haskalah, such as the writer Abraham Mapu, creator of the Hebrew novel, and the poet and critic Jude abdomen Gordon ( → History of the Jews in Russia).


The Abgeordnetenbüro the Thuringian politician Catherine King (The Left ) in Saalfeld bears the name Haskalah.