Heretics and Crypto-Christians: the Controversies of Rabbi Jonathan Eibeschuetz

2024 Annual Bender Visiting Scholar Public Lecture by Dr. Paweł Maciejko

Pawel Maciejko

Wednesday, March 6
In person at CU Boulder Norlin Library
Center for British and Irish Studies Room

and streaming via Zoom (link to come).

The controversy around Jonathan Eibeschütz, one of the most celebrated rabbinic authorities of the 18th century, has been termed “the most contentious Jewish debate of the past three hundred years.” It has been deemed the pivotal moment in Jewish history, and even, if perhaps somewhat exaggeratedly, the “Jewish French Revolution.”  As it is well-known, the controversy erupted in early 1751, when Eibeschütz was accused that the amulets he had been dispensing for the past twenty years contained references to the discredited messiah-claimant, Sabbatai Tsevi. What is less known is the fact that his detractors supplemented this initial charge also with other accusations. This talk will concentrate on the claim that Eibeschütz was in fact a crypto-Christian collaborating with Christians in spreading their religion among the Jews.

Paweł Maciejko is Associate Professor of History and Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Chair in Classical Jewish Religion, Thought, and Culture at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of “The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement” (2011) and “Sabbatian Heresy” (2017).

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