argued in their memoranda to the Chancellor and the Intendant of Metz. He had dared challenge the power of the Jewish leadership to excommunicate those who 'by their bad conduct, their disdain for their superiors, and their breach of national discipline, deviated from the precepts of their religion'.12

These cases, and the many more which appeared before the bailliage courts and parlement of Metz, concern individuals who, increasingly comfortable in the non-Jewish world, were determined to assert their independence from community control. They also suggest the vulnerability of the Jewish community as a whole. None of this, of course, was unique to Metz. On the contrary, in Germany and Austria the financial ventures of a number of individuals, for example Süss Oppenheimer, the confidential advisor to Duke Charles Alexander of Württemberg, brought wealth to their sovereigns and comparable privileges to themselves and their families. Exempted from the jurisdiction of both Jewish and non-Jewish courts, accountable only to the royal court, these 'court Jews' ostentatiously and precariously balanced participation in both Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. In many areas of Europe, moreover, examples could also be found of a laxity of religious observance, a waning of the traditional valuation of religious education, and a cultivation of philosophy, science and other branches of knowledge of non-Jewish origin. Even Glückel received both a secular and religious education as did her brothers and sisters.

Enlightenment and universalism

Do these examples indicate a newly emerging, albeit no less complicated, basis for Jewish-Christian relations? Some Jewish historians suggest that this is indeed the case. Others, however, point to a later period (c. 1770) and to the time when Jews and Christians began to mingle both in defiance of the barriers separating them and on the basis of new concepts in contradiction to the value system of their traditions.13 These historians focus their attention on the communities of Berlin and Königsberg and most especially on Moses Mendelssohn and his circle.

Born in Dessau in 1729, the son of a Torah scribe, Moses Mendelssohn made his living as a textile merchant in Berlin. Immersing himself in European culture, indeed becoming creative in this culture himself, Mendelssohn participated in the activities of the learned societies of Berlin, soon counting the finest minds of Germany among his friends and admirers.14 In addition to his philosophical works, including Phaedon in which he set out to prove the immortality of the soul, he also oversaw the translation of the Pentateuch into German believing that for orthodox Jews it would open the door to non-Jewish

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