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A Leap of Faith

Episode 3 of 5

Documentary series. Simon Schama examines how the Enlightenment brought the ghetto walls crashing down and how this integration ultimately stirred up old prejudices.

Simon Schama explores the bright, hopeful moment when Enlightenment thinkers and revolutionary armies brought ghetto walls crashing down - allowing Jews to weave their wisdom, creativity and energies into the very fabric of modern life in Europe.

One of the most of fruitful branches of this Jewish renaissance was in music, and the stellar careers of Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn established the enduring tradition for Jewish musical prodigies. However, the remarkably successful integration of Jewish talent into the mainstream of European culture and commerce stirred up the ghosts of ancient prejudice, decked out in the new clothes of romantic nationalism and the pseudo-science of anti-semitism. The road to the hell of the Holocaust was paved by the diatribes of Richard Wagner, while the trial of Alfred Dreyfus led Theodor Herzl to conclude that without a homeland of their own, Jews would never be free of the millennia-old persecution.

1 hour

Last on

Tue 17 Apr 2018 21:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:32

    Richard Wagner

    Siegfried's Funeral March (Götterdämmerung)

    Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Otto Klemperer.


Role Contributor
Presenter Simon Schama
Executive Producer Nicholas Kent
Director Ella Bahaire
Series Producer Tim Kirby
Producer Ella Bahaire


  • Sun 15 Sep 2013 21:00
  • Tue 17 Sep 2013 00:20
  • Tue 22 Oct 2013 01:20
  • Tue 17 Apr 2018 21:00