Mendelssohn’s Berlin

Mendelssohn was born in Dessau and received a traditional Talmudic education. At age 14, he followed his Rabbi to Berlin, which was a cultural hub flourishing under the enlightened (but nevertheless anti-Semitic) monarch Frederick the Great. In Berlin, Mendelssohn encountered a group of early Maskilim (Enlighteners) who introduced him to philosophy and science. Although his mother tongue was Yiddish, he came to be celebrated for his German literary style. He attained international fame as a philosopher without ever attending university, and he supported himself by working in a silk factory.

Berlin in the 18th Century