Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 24

Jews and their Neighbours in Eastern Europe since 1750
Edited by Israel Bartal, Antony Polonsky & Scott Ury

Relations between Jews and their neighbours in eastern Europe have long been perceived as being in a permanent state of conflict. Focusing on commonalities rather than differences enables contributors to counter that image and also to highlight moments and modes of reciprocal influence and exchange, making a valuable contribution to the discussion of inter-group relations as well as to Polish Jewish history.

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Relations between Jews and their neighbours in eastern Europe have long been perceived, both in the popular mind and in conventional scholarship, as being in a permanent state of conflict. This volume counters that image by exploring long-neglected aspects of inter-group interaction and exchange. In so doing it broadens our understanding of Jewish history and culture, as well as that of eastern Europe.

Whereas traditional historiography concentrates on the differences between Jews and non-Jews, the essays here focus on commonalities: the social, political, and economic worlds that members of different groups often shared. Shifting the emphasis in this way allows quite a different picture to emerge. Jews may have been subject to the whims of ruling powers and influenced by broader cultural and political developments, but at the same time they exerted a discernible influence on them—the social, cultural, and political spheres were ones that they not only shared, but that they also helped to create. This model of reciprocal influence and exchange has much to offer to the study of inter-group relations in eastern Europe and beyond.

Designed to move the study of east European Jewry beyond the intellectual and academic discourse of difference that has long troubled scholars, this volume contributes to our perception of how members of different groups operate and interact on a multitude of different levels. The various contributions represent a wide cross-section of opinions and approaches—historical, literary, and cultural. Taken together they move our understanding of east European Jewry from the realm of the mythical to a more rational mode.

In addition to essays considering interactions between Jews and Poles, other contributions examine relations between Jews and other ethnic groups (Lithuanians, Russians), discuss negotiations with various governments (Habsburg, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and Soviet), analyse exchanges between Jews and different cultural realms (German, Polish, and Russian), and explore how the politics of memory affects contemporary interpretations of these and related phenomena.



Karen Auerbach, Israel Bartal, Ela Bauer, Jan Błoński, Marek Edelman, Michael Fleming, Dorota Glowacka, Regina Grol, François Guesnet, Brian Horowitz, Agnieszka Jagodińska, Jeff Kopstein, Sergei Kravtsov, Rachel Manekin, Czesław Miłosz, Karin Neuberger, Przemysław Różański, Kai Struve, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, Jerzy Turowicz, Scott Ury, Kalman Weiser, Jason Wittenberg, Marcin Wodziński, Piotr Wróbel

About the editors

Israel Bartal studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Harvard University and received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, McGill, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and Moscow State University. He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University between 2006 and 2010 and is the chair of the Historical Society of Israel. Among his publications are (with Magdalena Opalski) Poles and Jews: A Failed Brotherhood (1992); Polin, Volume 12 (1999) (co-edited with Antony Polonsky), which focuses on the Jews in Galicia, 1772–1918; and The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772–1881 (2005), which has also appeared in Hebrew, Russian, and German.

Antony Polonsky is Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Chief Historian of the Permanent Collection of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw. Until 1991, he was Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is chair of the editorial board of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry; author of Politics in Independent Poland, 1921–1939 (1972), The Little Dictators (1975), The Great Powers and the Polish Question, 1941–45 (1976); co-author of The History of Poland since 1863 (1980) and The Beginnings of Communist Rule in Poland (1981); and co-editor of Contemporary Jewish Writing in Poland: An Anthology (2001) and The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (2004). His most recent work is The Jews in Poland and Russia, i: 1350–1881 (2009); ii: 1881–1914 (2010); iii: 1914–2008 (forthcoming).

Scott Ury is a senior lecturer in Tel Aviv University's Department of Jewish History, where he also serves as acting director of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. His work has appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Polin, the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, and other academic forums, in English, French, German, Hebrew, and Polish. He has also co-edited a special edition of the European Review of History on Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and the Jews of East Central Europe. His latest book is Red Banner, Blue Star: The Revolution of 1905 and the Transformation of Warsaw Jewry (forthcoming).


About the contributors

Karen Auerbach, postdoctoral fellow, Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Michigan
Israel Bartal,  Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; chair, Historical Society of Israel
Ela Bauer, chair, Department of Communication and Film, Seminar Ha-Kibbutzim College, Tel Aviv; teaches in the Jewish History Department, Haifa University
Jan Błoński
Marek Edelman
Michael Fleming, Professor, Academy of Humanities and Economics, Łódź; associate professor, Polish University Abroad, London
Dorota Glowacka teaches critical theory and Holocaust studies, University of King’s College, Halifax, Canada
Regina Grol, Fellow, Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
François Guesnet, Sidney and Elizabeth Corob Lecturer in Modern Jewish History, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London
Brian Horowitz, Sizeler Family Chair Professor, Tulane University, New Orleans
Agnieszka Jagodińska, Assistant Professor, Department of Jewish Studies, University of Wrocław
Jeff Kopstein, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, the University of Toronto
Sergei Kravtsov, Research Fellow, Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Rachel Manekin, Assistant Professor of Jewish history, University of Maryland
Czesław Miłosz
Karin Neuberger, Lecturer, Institute for Central and Eastern European Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Przemysław Różański, Lecturer, Institute of History, University of Gdańsk
Kai Struve, Research Fellow, Institute of History, Martin Luther University, Halle
Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, Professor, Institute of Applied Social Sciences, University of Warsaw, and Polish Academy of Sciences
Jerzy Turowicz
Scott Ury, Senior Lecturer, Department of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University; acting director, Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism
Kalman Weiser, Silber Family Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, York University, Toronto
Jason Wittenberg, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
Marcin Wodziński, Professor of Jewish History and Literature, University of Wrocław, and director, Department of Jewish Studies
Piotr Wróbel, Konstanty Reynert Chair of Polish Studies, University of Toronto



Note on Place Names
Note on Transliteration


Between Jews and their Neighbours: Isolation, Confrontation, and Influence in Eastern Europe

Reform and Exclusion: Conceptions of the Reform of the Jewish Community during the Declining Years of the Polish Enlightenment

Praying at Home in Lemberg: The Minyan Laws of the Habsburg Empire, 1776–1848

Overcoming the Signs of the 'Other': Visual Aspects of the Acculturation of Jews in the Kingdom of Poland in the Nineteenth Century

The Ideological Roots of the Polish Jewish Intelligentsia

Between Permeability and Isolation: Ezriel Natan Frenk as Historian of the Jews in Poland

S. A. An-sky—Dialogic Writer

Between Judaism and the West: The Making of a Modern Jewish Poet in Uri Zvi Greenberg's 'Memoirs (from the Book of Wanderings)'

Between State Loyalty and National Identity: Electoral Behaviour in Interwar Poland

Failed Integration: Jews and the Beginning of the Communist Movement in Poland

The Jewel in the Yiddish Crown: Who Will Occupy the Chair for Yiddish at the University of Vilnius?

Rites of Violence? The Pogroms of Summer 1941

Nusekh Poyln? Communism, Publishing, and Paths to Polishness among the Jewish Parents of 16 Ujazdowskie Avenue

Changing Images of ‘the Jews’ in Polish Literature and Culture, 1980-2000


Ogee Arcades in Synagogue Architecture of Volhynia and Podolia in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

The Attitude of American Jews and American Diplomacy towards the Bill Banning Shehitah in Poland in the Second Half of the 1930s

Imagining Polish Jews: British Perspectives in the Period 1944-1946

‘The Hanging of Judas’; or, Contemporary Jewish Subjects

1968; or, America! America!

‘Campo di Fiori’ Fifty Years Later: The People Who Remain
A discussion that took place on the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto, between JAN BŁOŃSKI, MAREK EDELMAN, CZESŁAW MIŁOSZ, and JERZY TUROWICZ

Chimen Abramsky
Marek Edelman

Notes on the Contributors