Pointing to the larger claims of the book, the introduction argues that the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a key moment in the creation of the Jewish individual--a moment when forms and structures of religious, familial, and communal authority were subsumed under the needs and concerns of the individual. As a result, personal desire increasingly defined the limits and scope of Jewishness, resulting in the creation of voluntary Jewish communities. Critically, the emergence and evolution of the Jewish individual occurred roughly at the same time as another pivotal social and cultural development: Leisure sites, including cafés, restaurants, hotel halls, and sports clubs, were gaining increased popularity in European society as available free time increased. The Introduction explores the relevant historiographic and theoretical debates connected to the spatial turn and highlights how they would become important for the Jewish communities of Berlin, Paris, and St. Petersburg.
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