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In this very readable book, Hertz (Univ. of California, San Diego; Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin) continues her probing into Jewish-Christian relationships, particularly in the 18th and early 19th centuries. She describes how Jews at that time might have converted to Christianity for reasons of romance or career, and she tracks the many fascinating twists and turns to this story. For example, Lutheran pietists trained some of their members in Yiddish and rabbinic traditions in order to disrupt synagogue services and engage rabbis in debates for the purpose of Christianizing their congregations. Jews who did convert-famously, siblings Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn-were looked upon unfavorably by their fellow Jews and were never truly accepted in Christian circles either. Berlin is the focal point for this narrative, and Hertz's sketching of this grimy, backward city in the aforementioned centuries is not pleasant. Although the account winds down in the 1830s, 20th-century happenings-namely, the Holocaust-undergird much of the book. Not ideal for bedtime reading but highly recommended for all libraries.
—James A. Overbeck