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A Portrait of Mendelssohn$
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Clive Brown

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300095395

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300095395.001.0001

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• Abraham Mendelssohn's Dilemma

• Abraham Mendelssohn's Dilemma

13 • Abraham Mendelssohn's Dilemma
A Portrait of Mendelssohn

Clive Brown

Yale University Press

Abraham Mendelssohn was facing a dilemma at the time his three eldest children—Fanny, Felix, and Rebecka—were born. This had something to do with the privilege of Christianity obtained by his father Moses, which applied only to him and his wife. On the other hand, the privilege granted to Moses after his death applied only to his children, not to any future grandchildren. King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia granted Daniel Itzig, grandfather of Abraham's wife, Lea Salomon, all the rights of a Christian citizen, but this privilege extended only to his grandchildren and did not cover Abraham and Lea's children. While this problem was resolved through the 1812 Prussian Edict of Emancipation, Abraham and Lea, along with many other Jews of their class, realized that their children must be assimilated into the Christian majority, regardless of the legal position. Such a decision was not essentially at odds with Moses Mendelssohn's philosophical and theological stance despite his adherence to Judaism.

Keywords:   privilege, Abraham Mendelssohn, Friedrich Wilhelm II, Prussia, Daniel Itzig, Lea Salomon, Jews, Moses Mendelssohn, Judaism, Christianity

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