The Jews in Europe were treated very poorly until a reform began in the late eighteenth century. The Jews lived in ghettos where they were not even considered citizens. The Jewish Enlightenment questioned this treatment.
Emancipation is defined as, "the legal process, which began in Europe with the French Revolution, or granting to the jews equal civic rights in the countries in which they reside." The Jewish emancipation occurred during the Second Industrial Revolution due to the rise of nation-state and mercantilism (Calgary). The Jewish emancipation began at the end of the eighteenth century. It offered jews social, economic, and political opportunities, but it challenged traditional jewish life and values by making available new avenues of integration (Cornell).
The Enlightenment was a "jewish ideological movement that aimed at modernizing Jewish life and thought" (Calgary). During the enlightenment some reforms were made. In 1782, Joseph II gave the Jews of the Habsburg Empire equal treatment as the Christians. France gave citizenship to Jews in 1789. Also during this time places such as Italy and Germany were treating Jews and Christians equally. An exception to the fair treatment was Russia. Russia continued to discriminate against Jews until World War I. The Russian government controlled the publication of Jewish books, the areas Jews could live in, and excluded them from receiving a higher education. The government even started riots in the Jewish communities. This was when many Jews decided to leave Russia and move to the United States. At the time they had all the legal rights as others, but they did encounter prejudice in the United States.
Life seemed to improve greatly for the Jewish people between the years of 1850 to 1880. They were granted full citizenship in Germany, Italy, and Scandinavia. They were able to be elected to Parliament in Great Britain after 1858. Austria-Hungary gave full legal rights to Jews in 1867. They quickly entered politics and took office in some of the highest positions. During this time Jews did not encounter much discrimination or prejudice treatment. This was a great time for them to excel in the professions they choose and in cultural activities.
Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), a pioneer of the Jewish Enlightenment, was a German philosopher and author. He was a strong advocate of Jewish civil rights. He was born in Dessau, Germany. In 1750 he became a tutor to children and a silk merchants partner. In 1754 he became good friends with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, a supporter of the Jewish Emancipation. ...