Historiography formed an unusually important component of the popular culture and heritage of east European Jewry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This was a period of social, economic, and political upheaval, and for the emerging class of educated Jews the writing and reading of Jewish history provided not only intellectual but also emotional and moral sustenance. Facing an insecure future became easier with an understanding of the past, and of the Jewish place in that past.
This volume is devoted to the development of Jewish historiography in the three east European centres—Congress Poland, the Russian empire, and Galicia—that together contained the majority of world Jewry at that time. Drawing widely on the multilingual body of scholarly and popular literature that emerged in that turbulent environment, the contributors to this volume attempt to go beyond the established paradigms in the study of Jewish historiography, and specifically to examine the relationship between the writing of Jewish history and of non-Jewish history in eastern Europe. In doing so they expose the tension between the study of the Jewish past in a communal setting and in a wider, regional, setting that located Jews firmly in the non-Jewish political, economic, and cultural environment. They also explore the relationship between ‘history’—seen as the popular understanding of the past—and ‘scholarly history’—interpretation of the past through the academic study of the sources, which lays claim to objectivity and authority.
The development of Jewish historical scholarship grew out of the new intellectual climate of the Haskalah, which encouraged novel modes of thinking about self and others and promoted critical enquiry and new approaches to traditional sources. At the same time, however, in response to what the traditionalists perceived as secular research, an Orthodox historiography also emerged, driven not only by scholarly curiosity but also by the need to provide a powerful counterweight in the struggle against modernity. In fact, east European Jewish historiography has undergone many methodological, thematic, and ideological transformations over the last two centuries. Even today, east European Jewish historiography revisits many of the questions of importance to scholars and audiences since its emergence: how Jews lived, both within the narrow Jewish world and in contact with the wider society; the limits of Jewish insularity and integration; expressions of persecution and anti-Jewish violence; and also Jewish contributions to the societies and states of eastern Europe. Many challenges still remain: questions of the purpose of the research, its ideological colouring, and its relevance for contemporary Jewish communities.
The fruit of research in many disciplines and from different methodological points of view, this volume has much to offer scholars of modern Jewry trying to understand how east European Jews saw themselves as they struggled with the concepts of modernity and national identity and how their history continues to be studied and discussed by an international community of scholars.
Antony Polonsky is Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and chief historian of the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. He is co-chair of the editorial collegium of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry.
Brian Horowitz is Sizeler Family Chair Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University.
Natalia Aleksiun is an associate professor of Jewish History at Touro College, New York.
Note on Place Names
Note on Transliteration
BRIAN HOROWITZ AND NATALIA ALEKSIUN
PART I: WRITING EAST EUROPEAN JEWISH HISTORY
The Pinkas: From Communal Archive to Total History
‘Constructing the shrine of our people’s history’: Hatsefirah and the Historiography of Polish Jewry
‘Building a fragile edifice’: A History of Russian Jewish Historical Institution, 1860–1914
Constructing Polish Jewry’s ‘Shrine of History’: Galician Beginnings
Charting the Outer Provinces of Jewry: The Study of East European Jewry’s Margins
Dubnov’s Wayward Son: Israel Sosis and the Legacy of Russian Jewish Historiography
The Historiography of the Bund
Scholars of Jewish Origin in the Community of Historians in Lwów, 1918–1939
Object Lessons: Art Collection and Display as Historical Practice in Interwar Lwów
Broken Traditions? The Jewish Presence on the City Councils of Kraków, Poznań, and Warsaw, 1919–1939
Female, Jewish, Educated, and Writing Polish Jewish History
Jewish Historiography of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe
Conversion in the Work of Jakub Goldberg
Denying Tradition: Academic Historiography on Jewish Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe
Jewish Traditionalism in Eastern Europe: The Historiographical Gadfly
Out of the Ghetto? Historiography on Jewish Women in Eastern Europe
ELIYANA R. ADLER
Problems in the Study of Russian Jewish Literature
LEONID F. KATSIS
The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw: A New Approach to the History of the Jews in the Polish Lands
PART II: DOCUMENTARY SECTION
In Search of Lost Times and Places: Simon Rawidowicz Reflects on his Formative Years in Grajewo and Białystok
PART III: NEW VIEWS
What Happened to Tarnów's Jews?
Does ‘Polish Antisemitism’ Exist? Research in Poland and Ukraine, 1992 and 2002
PART IV: OBITUARIES
Notes on the Contributors
231 × 151 mm
December 29, 2016
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 29