Passionately determined to reform Jewish life, Dik was one of many Vilna maskilim
who, on July 23, 1843, petitioned the district governors of the Pale of Settlement to prohibit the wearing of traditional Jewish dress.
Despite the other accomplishments of the Maskilim
, their efforts to secure Jewish civil rights met with limited success until the French Revolution and the 1791 proclamation of general emancipation for the Jews, which was extended to the conquered lands, including western Germany.
In European Jewish historiography, these individuals are called maskilim
(enlightened Jews), and we find them among them Naftali Herz Wessely, Joseph Perl, Jacob Tugendhold, and Judah Baer Levinson, to name some of the more prominent.
He describes the differences between the two schools of thought and the variants that developed around them, anti-Hasidic criticism in the last years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the growth of influence of the maskilim
, or modernizers.
Metz Jewish notables were aware of the work of the German Maskilim
, read and discussed the work of Moses Mendelssohn, and were in touch with Wilhelm Dohm, an early Christian advocate of Jewish emancipation as the means to the Jews' "improvement.
believed that acceptance into the wider culture demanded intellectual and social adherence to the models of the non-Jewish world and adoption of their aesthetic values.
denounced beer-garden Yiddish melodramas in Poland too, and decried the crass laughs of shmontzes (cheap yuks).
By the 1820S the two camps, the maskilim
(Enlighteners) and the Hasidim were bitter enemies.
Yes, the Hebrew language is reborn, but not really from the efforts of the maskilim
, who thought to merge its beauties with German idealism.
Family instability, while exacerbated by the manifold dislocations inherent in immigrant life, had already raised alarm in eastern Europe where the divorce rate was rising (illuminating and increasing the problem of the agunah), and maskilim
were criticizing the traditional model of marriage as an economic partnership and urging "idling" husbands to support their wives.
Yet in spite of his physical limitations he had a constant flow of visitors, among whom were not only religious Jews, some of the leading Hasidim, but also, according to his son's account, some of the most prominent maskilim
or reformers as well.
He recalls that at congregations Petach Tikvah and the Center "I was particularly blessed with many men who had studied in the old Yeshivot, who were maskilim