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Abstract

In the 19th century, German Jews made a disproportionate contribution to the academic study of Islam, a subject that fell under the rubric of Orientalism. One German-Jewish Orientalist, Gustav Weil (1808–1889), spent most of 1830–1835 in Algeria, Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire, writing for the German periodicals the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung and the Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände. Weil's 1830s travel writing reflects 19th-century German-Jewish embourgeoisement, which entailed a strong commitment to the ideals of Bildung, rationalism, and universalism. This article focuses on the comparisons Weil draws between traditional Judaism and Islam and between Jewish and Islamic reform and modernization. After briefly discussing Weil's own education and career, it argues that Weil's discussion of Oriental Jewry, Jewish and Islamic reform, and education reform in Mehmed Ali's Egypt, exemplify how the Jewish question informed representations of the Orient and Islam in the European press.