Jewish Culture and Society in East Central Europe: 1772-present

Publication date 20.04.2023
Prof. Joshua Shanes

In 1939, on the eve of the Holocaust, east European Jewry constituted the most important and culturally influential Jewish community in the world. As a result of half a century of mass migration, up to 90% of world Jewry either lived in Eastern Europe or were children of immigrants from there. Jews were particularly prominent in East European cities. In Galicia, for example, Jews constituted a plurality or majority of nearly every major city. (L’viv was an exception, where they made up “only” a quarter of the population.) This course will survey the modern history of this once vital community – social, economic, political, religious and cultural – from the Polish partitions until today.

This course was a part of Jewish History, Common Past and Heritage: Culture, Cities, Milieus summer school.

Polish Partitions and the Birth of Austrian and "Russian" Jewry

  • Israel Bartal, Jews of Eastern Europe 1772-1881, pages 70-81.
  • Yivo encyclopedia: (1) Russia: Russian Empire, (2) Pale of Settlement, (3) estate system, (4) kahal, (5) trade: partitions to World War I , (6) shtetl

Hasidism: From Esoteric Circle to Mass movement

Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) in Eastern Europe

Emancipation and Antisemitism: Austrian and Russian Jewry in the Late 19th Century

Modern Jewish Politics: Nationalism, Socialism, Assimilationism and Orthodoxy

World War I, Revolution and Civil War

Interwar Poland and Soviet Union

The Holocaust in Eastern Europe

Post-War Jewry and Popular Memory