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How Wise was Nathan the Wise?

Jonathan Wittenberg

Identity & Global Culture, Jewish History, Modern Jewish Literature, Sacred Text & Thought

Nathan, the hero of Lessing’s late eighteenth century play, modelled on Moses Mendelssohn, presents the ideal of the plural and tolerant society. But was it really that ideal? Why did Franz Rosenzweig criticise the play so sharply? And why did the Jewish theatre in Nazi Germany choose it for its first production? What did the critics say then? What is the ideal society?

Jonathan Wittenberg

New North London Synagogue

Jonathan Wittenberg was born in Glasgow to a German Jewish refugee family. After reading English at Cambridge and training to be a teacher he studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College, London, and in Israel, following family tradition. He was appointed Rabbi of the New North London Masorti Synagogue in 1987 and Senior Rabbi of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues UK in 2008. His publications include The Eternal Journey: Meditations on the Jewish Year (2001) and The Silence of Dark Water: An Inner Journey (2008). Jonathan is married to Nicola Solomon; they have three teenage children, a dog, over thirty other animals and love walking, gardening and people.

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