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Place in Modern Jewish Culture and Society$
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Richard I. Cohen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190912628

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190912628.001.0001

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The Urban Origins of Jewish Degeneration

The Urban Origins of Jewish Degeneration

The Modern City and the “End of the Jews,” 1900–1939

Chapter:
The Urban Origins of Jewish Degeneration
Source:
Place in Modern Jewish Culture and Society
Author(s):

Scott Ury

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190912628.003.0003

This chapter examines the relationship between Jews and the modern city, and more specifically how urban life contributed to Jewish degeneration, by drawing on the arguments advanced by Yuri Slezkine in his book The Jewish Century. While some scholars praised The Jewish Century, others were critical of Slezkine’s work. The chapter first looks at intellectuals who influenced the turn-of-the-century discourse on the city, including Georg Simmel, Louis Wirth, Arthur Ruppin, and Theodor Herzl, before discussing the combined impact of the historical and sociological processes of urbanization and assimilation, on the one hand, and of individual adaptation and mental degeneration, on the other, on the sociological meaning of being Jewish. It also considers the discourse regarding the intersection between race and environment, taking into account arguments by physicians such as Jacob Snowman and Abraham Myerson.

Keywords:   Urbanization, Jews, modern city, urban life, Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century, assimilation, mental degeneration, race, environment, Zionism

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