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The removal of restrictions against the Jews in the western world during the late 18th to early 20th centuries, especially during the 19th century. A major factor in this process was the French Revolution in 1789, which brought emancipation to the general population of France and Europe. Until that time, Jews had lived for more than a thousand years under the restrictive rule of Christian Europe, which had prevented Jews from fully participating in the social and economic order, forced them to live in secluded areas called ghettos, and in effect accorded them the status of outsiders. In the New World, particularly in North America, the Jews enjoyed much better status than in Europe. But gradually after 1789, the civil, social, and economic status of Jews throughout Europe, beginning in Western Europe, began to improve, while in Russia this did not occur until after the Communist Revolution in 1917. This is not to say that Jews in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries achieved equality. While European societies changed during that time, attitudes toward Jews and Judaism remained ambiguous at best and outright hostile at worst. Emancipation in Europe did not realize the idealistic goals of the French or Russian revolutions. Rather, it ended in the death fields and death camps of World War II.

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