Voltaire vs Judaism

 So I’m taking this class on Jewish civilization in the modern period (roughly from the French Revolution until WWII). Right now we’re still discussing the Middle Ages leading up to Enlightenment, and the typical attitude towards Jews and Judaism is one of ignorance and harm. Jews weren’t allowed to live just anywhere, were exorbitantly taxed, often beaten, etc etc etc. To be sure, life was horrible for just about everyone in the Middle Ages (except the upper crust, of course), but it definitely sucked for Jews. 

Anyway, for this class I’m reading a book of primary sources of Jews and Judaism, and one thing we had to read was a letter written by Voltaire (you know, the great Enlightenment figure). He vilifies the Jews, calling them dirty, vile, evil, everything unspeakable pretty much, and ends with the words "still, we ought not to burn them" [at the stake].

Thank you, Voltaire, for your particular brand of tolerance. 

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6 Comments

  1. Lotte
    oh my, oh my, that’s interesting and pretty horrific as well…Maybe you can teach me a thing or two when you come back and I’ll be taking the Jewish American literature class after christmas ;)

  2. Lotte
    oh my, oh my, that’s interesting and pretty horrific as well…Maybe you can teach me a thing or two when you come back and I’ll be taking the Jewish American literature class after christmas ;)

  3. Lotte
    oh my, oh my, that’s interesting and pretty horrific as well…Maybe you can teach me a thing or two when you come back and I’ll be taking the Jewish American literature class after christmas ;)

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