Moses Mendelssohn

At the end of the 18th century, a group of Berlin Jews sought to modernize traditional Judaism. Influenced by ideals of the German Enlightenment, the Maskilim (Hebrew for “enlighteners”) interpreted Judaism as a rational, tolerant, ethical religion. The towering figure of this movement was a short, humpbacked son of a Torah scribe from the rural German hamlet of Dessau, who rose to become an internationally renowned Enlightenment philosopher while remaining an observant Jew who defended Judaism and advocated for Jewish civil rights.

Letters, Personal Effects, and Likenesses
Visit the Exhibition
View the exhibition at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., New York