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This article is about the Haskalah movement. For the Hebrew literary term heading some psalms, see Psalms § Use of the Psalms in Jewish ritual. For the scholarly honorific, see Maskil (honorific).

Maskil (Hebrew: מַשְׂכִּיל‎, plural maskilim) is an identifier for individuals and ideas of the Haskalah movement, the European Jewish enlightenment between the 1770s and 1880s, who sought to reeducate Jews so that they could fit into modern society; they established schools and published works of cultural importance.[1] It was based upon the honorific maskil, meaning "scholar" or "enlightened man", used by Isaac Israeli ben Joseph in the 14th century to refer to his Italian Jewish colleagues.

List of Maskilim[edit]

  • David Friesenhausen (1756–1828), Hungarian maskil, mathematician, and rabbi
  • Abraham Dob Bär Lebensohn (~1790–1878) was a Lithuanian Jewish Hebraist, poet, and grammarian.
  • Abraham Jacob Paperna (1840–1919) was a Russian Jewish educator and author.
  • Aleksander Zederbaum (1816–1893) was a Polish-Russian Jewish journalist. He was founder and editor of Ha-Meliẓ, and other periodicals published in Russian and Yiddish; he wrote in Hebrew.
  • Avrom Ber Gotlober (1811–1899) was a Jewish writer, poet, playwright, historian, journalist and educator. He mostly wrote in Hebrew, but also wrote poetry and dramas in Yiddish. His first collection was published in 1835.
  • Dorothea von Schlegel (1764–1839) was a linchpin of the German-Jewish Enlightenment, a novelist and translator, and a daughter of Moses Mendelssohn.
  • Eliezer Dob Liebermann (1820–1895) was a Russian Hebrew-language writer.
  • Ephraim Deinard (1846–1930) was one of the greatest Hebrew 'bookmen' of all time. He was a bookseller, bibliographer, publicist, polemicist, historian, memoirist, author, editor, and publisher.
  • Henriette Herz (1764–1847) was a Prussian-Jewish salonnière.
  • Isaac ben Jacob Benjacob (1801–1863) was a Russian bibliographer, author, and publisher. His parents moved to Vilnius when he was still a child, and there he received instruction in Hebrew grammar and rabbinical lore.
  • Rahel Varnhagen (1771–1833) was a writer and the most prominent female maskil and salonnière.
  • Isaac Bär Levinsohn (noted in the Haskalah article)

See also[edit]

  • Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) was a German Jewish philosopher, although not a maskil, his ideas strongly influenced the Haskalah.
  • Berdychiv, a city in northern Ukraine, was a hotbed of maskilic thought in the 19th century.
  • Isaiah Berlin (rabbi) (1725–1799) was a German Talmudist, who strongly opposed the maskilim.


  1. ^ Hershel Edelheit and Abraham J. Edelheit, History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary, Westview Press, (2000), p 17