"Kerem Hemed", the Hebrew Periodical of Wissenschaft des Judentums in Galicia and Italy

כרם חמד, כתב העת העברי של חכמת ישראל בגליציה ובאיטליה


Kerem Hemed (1833—1856) represents a new phenomenon in the development of Hebrew periodicals in the nineteenth-century Haskalah. It was published on the heels of the demise of Bikurei ha-'Itim (1820—1831) and was devoted to the study of all phases and phenomena of historical Judaism— the discipline known as Wissenschaft des Judentums (the 'Science of Judaism'), initiated by learned Maskilim in Galicia, Italy, and Germany. The editor/publisher of Kerem Hemed, Shmuel Leib Goldenberg, introduced a daring innovation in his periodical: all articles were published in the format of learned correspondence between and among Haskalah scholars. The article probes the backdrop of the periodical and the persona and the activities of its publisher-editor in pursuing his undertaking. It discusses the question of who actually edited the journal: whether it was Goldenberg or the Galician Maskil Shlomo Yehuda Rapoport (known as ShIR). The article then examines the use of the correspondence format and its unique characteristics inasmuch as it contributed, in addition to scholarship, insights onto the personalities of the individual scholars, their mindset, their relationship with other Maskilim, and the knowledge of Haskalah at the time. The article also studies the reasons for the choice of such a format. The periodical reflects the emergence of a respublica litterarum (a 'republic of letters'), i.e., a community of writers and pundits among Hebrew Maskilim as an up-and-coming force in Jewish society, first in Germany and then in Austria and Galicia, that competed with the existing structure of the Kehillah (autonomous community administration) and the religious establishment. Kerem Hemed served the Haskalah intellectual community, uniting Galician Maskilim with their counterparts in Italy and Germany. This community of scholars was borderless, somewhat universal, serving Maskilim in several countries. Even though Kerem Hemed declared itself to be a scholarly journal, within its learned studies one may detect definite Haskalah tendencies, manifested in attempts to promote Haskalah and its ideology. Some of the 'esoteric' studies that appeared in the journal expressed explicit messages against superstition and Kabbalah, offering rationalistic and modern perceptions of Judaism, while others severely criticized the phenomenon of HHasidism in Galicia

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Kesher /קשר

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