East European Jews in Modern Times

Publication date 25.04.2023
Prof. Marcin Wodzinski

The course will cover the major development of the East European Jewry from the mideighteenth century till the present. More specifically, it will focus on the apparently largest category of modern Jewish history, i.e. modernity itself. The course will start with the discussion of what modernity means in contemporary scholarly discourse, and—more specifically—how it is applied today in historiography of East European Jewry. This introduction will provide a frame for the focus of the course: the analysis of the changing life patters and differing strategies of adopting, rejecting, or negotiating modernity in every-day lives of East European Jews.

This course was a part of Connecting (to) Histories: Engaging with the Urban Pasts and Displaying Jewish Heritage summer school.

Jews in Eastern Europe in the Eighteenth Century. On the treshold of modernity

General theoretical introduction to the subject. What is modernity? How Jewish modernity in Eastern Europe differs, if it does, from the general model? When does it start? The situation of East European Jews in mid-eighteenth century and how ‘modern’ it was.


  • 1.1. Marcin Wodziński, ‘Modernity and Polish Jews: Recent Developments in PolishJewish Historiography’, Studia Judaica 19 (2016), 1: 65-86.
  • 1.2. Gershon Hundert, Jews in Poland-Lithuania in the Eighteenth Century: A Genealogy of Modernity (Los Angeles, 2004), 1-20.

Reformers, Enlighteners, Maskilim. On the paths of modernization

Anti-Modernist Modernity. The Case of Hasidism

On Modern Jewish Politics

The end and the beginning

After-Life? Jews in post-Holocaust Poland. 1945 to present