When we talk about the Enlightenment, or the Haskalah, in Europe, we have a general historical sense that all Jews were in ghettos and then the walls came down. One day pogroms, the next Einstein, Freud and Kafka. The period of time was indeed extraordinary, as Michael Goldfarb elucidates in his book “Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews From the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance,” recently released in paperback from Simon & Schuster. The shift, however, was more gradual and more geographically specific than we might imagine, and the results were more nuanced and even more spectacular than could have been expected. I caught up with Goldfarb at a recent book talk at the JCC in Manhattan and, unfairly, asked him to summarize his 432-page book in a couple of minutes.
Video: What Freedom Meant in Europe