Paweł Maciejko – 2024 Sondra & Howard Bender Visiting Scholar

Heretics and crypto-Christians:
the controversies of Rabbi Jonathan Eibeschuetz


Pawel MaciejjkoPaweł Maciejko (he/him) is Associate Professor of History and Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Chair in Classical Jewish Religion, Thought, and Culture at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement (2011) and Sabbatian Heresy (2017).

The controversy around Jonathan Eibeschütz, one of the most celebrated rabbinic authorities of the 18th century, has been termed “the most contentious Jewish debate of the past three hundred years.” It has been deemed the pivotal moment in Jewish history, and even, if perhaps somewhat exaggeratedly, the “Jewish French Revolution.”  As it is well-known, the controversy erupted in early 1751, when Eibeschütz was accused that the amulets he had been dispensing for the past twenty years contained references to the discredited messiah-claimant, Sabbatai Tsevi. What is less known is the fact that his detractors supplemented this initial charge also with other accusation. This talk will concentrate on the claim that Eibeschütz was in fact a crypto-Christian collaborating with Christians in spreading their religion among the Jews.  


In 2012, the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Endowed Fund was established to help bring leading scholars in Jewish culture, history, language and religion to CU campuses to further the curricular goals of CU’s Program in Jewish Studies.  Attending lectures by leading scholars in this growing field provides students with the opportunity to learn from a broad range of academics.  In addition, visiting lecturers create a unique opportunity for the Program in Jewish Studies and CU to engage both students and the local community.  Public lectures catalyze discussions that include participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, enhancing students’ ability to think about issues beyond the walls of the classroom.