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

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