Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Elissa Bemporad

Committee Members

Francesca Bregoli

Dagmar Herzog

Clémence Boulouque

Subject Categories

European History | History of Religion | Jewish Studies | Language Interpretation and Translation | Modern Languages | Social History


East Prussia, Galicia, Poland, Neo-orthodoxy, haskalah, Samuel David Luzzatto, History of News, History of Newspapers, History of the Press, Media History, Communication History, Modern Hebrew Literature, Transnational History, Nineteenth Century History, Central European History


Publishing the Pan-Jewish emerges from a question about sites of synthesis between claims of sacred continuity and novel forms of communication. It centers on the first ten years of Hamagid (1856-1866), acknowledged within the historiography as history’s first Hebrew-language newspaper. Eliezer Lipman Silberman, an Orthodox butcher founded Hamagid in East Prussia as a bulwark of his vision of traditional Judaism. The first chapter of this dissertation examines the formal elements of the newspaper as a medium, demonstrating the myriad ways in which it presented novel experiences for its reading public. Chapter two narrates an untold history of the newspaper’s early readers and writers. These individuals formed an expansive network that eventually spanned much of the globe, uniting Jews in new ways. With the geographical distance between readers, and the far-flung subjects of news stories,many of Hamagid’s early readers confronted truth claims with dubious credibility. The third chapter traces a modernizing epistemology, in which standards of credibility gradually came to align with those of the empirical sciences, replacing credibility that relied on the reputation of individual religious authorities. Chapter four turns to depictions of the world outside of East Prussia, demonstrating Hamagid’s reliance on British sources for its foreign news. In the aggregate, using these sources engendered a narration of space skeptical of Ottoman rule abroad and sympathetic to the policy goals of the British Empire. The final chapter examines Hamagid’s style of Hebrew, in particular its use of allusions to the Hebrew Bible. Hamagid’s allusive style gestured back to the eighteenth century masklim and created for readers a sacred sense of contemporaneity. This Hebrew was distinct from contemporary publications, which by the 1850s were moving the language towards a new lexicon separate from the canon. Like its other features, Hamagid’s Hebrew was in the service of moderation, it was a tool to bring together novelty and conservativism. By way of conclusion, Publishing the Pan-Jewish interrogates the category of “moderate” and builds a new vocabulary by which historians can understand cultural products in the nineteenth century.

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