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My talk explores the link between the organization of the tobacco monopoly by Jewish leaseholders and their network of Jewish subcontractors during the eighteenth century with the rise of modern and secular intellectual elite in the nineteenth century. It contests the traditional approach of intellectual history that would look at the first generation of modern Jewish intellectuals as dropouts or graduates from traditional institutions of higher Jewish learning (Yeshivot).
Dr. Louise Hecht is currently a Fulbright research fellow at the Dept. of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania. She has been a senior lecturer in Jewish history at the Kurt-and-Ursula-Schubert Center for Jewish Studies at Palacký University, Olomouc, CZ since 2007. She received her PhD in 2002 at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and won the 2003 Pridan Prize for the best dissertation in Jewish history at the Hebrew University. Her publications include: Ein jüdischer Aufklärer in Böhmen: Der Pädagoge und Reformer Peter Beer (1758-1838), Köln: Böhlau, 2008 (ed.) and Jewish Enlightenment in the Czech Lands in a European Perspective, guest-edited issue of Jewish Culture and History 13, vols. 2-3 (2012)