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Emil Lehmann Addresses Leipzig Jews on the Antisemitic Movement (April 11, 1880)

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But we who are Germans, who think in German ways and feel German, will not allow these attacks to sway us from loving our German fatherland and our homeland, from working together with our fellow citizens toward the common good, and from refuting these antisemitic attacks by way of our lives. The best refutations of those pamphlets are not words but deeds – our lives.

The admonition of that polemic, however, is aimed primarily at Jews who now remain so only in name. They have given up on empathizing, on helping to counsel, and on helping to act with respect to all things that affect Jews. They believe the time of confessional differences is over. They were reluctant to be reminded that they are Jews. They raised their children in a non-denominational way. To them, Jewry was viewpoint that had been overcome. Many of them had their children participate only in Christian religious instruction and were unconcerned with the ramifications. The modern polemic has hit these co-religionists much harder than anyone else. They were reminded in the rudest manner that they are Jews as well, that their isolation would not help them. The time of confessional differences is not yet over; the positive religions have not lost their significance. Jews remain Jews, as long as they do not become Christians – and even the baptized Jew is subject to aversion. Thus, these renewed attacks remind the Jews to search their souls, to enhance, strengthen, and reform their religious institutions, to foster that which Jews and Christians have in common: the religious sense, the examination of their own treasures, the consideration of the Jewish theological and historical literature in order to summon from it strength, courage, and conviction for the realization that Jewry is a religion that guides its adherents to the purest humanity, to true human kindness, to the most loyal performance of duty, that the true Jew is a good person and a worthy patriot.

Source: Emil Lehmann, “Ueber die judenfeindliche Bewegung in Deutschland” [“On the Antisemitic Movement in Germany”]. Presentation at the Third Regular Congregation Meeting in Leipzig on April 11, 1880, in Emil Lehmann, Gesammelte Schriften [Collected Writings]. Berlin, 1899, pp. 215-24, here pp. 217-24.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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