Abstract

In late nineteenth century Hungary, progressive Jewish (Neolog) scholars wrote several articles in Neolog journals publicly supporting theories of common ancestry and race with Hungarians. They created a unique identity for themselves through discussions of common origin and history, making Jews into Hungarians. One of their main theories was that of Khazar ancestry, which, despite being controversial even in its own time, enabled stories of a common Judeo-Hungarian past and race to emerge. The Hungarian nationalism that was key to their self-definition underlay all arguments concerning the nature and ancestry of Hungarian Jewish identity. They not only created histories compatible with those of the Hungarians but also molded them into something new. Examining their narratives, we can rethink the conceptual framework of the modern Jewish experience and see the successes of integration from the minority’s point of view. In this way, we can detect another perspective on history, one that does not define the modern European Jewish experience as a story of either the success or the failure of assimilation as measured by the severity of anti-Semitism but allows the minority’s voice come to light.

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