History | The Jews of Eastern Europe
D300 | 2765 | Veidlinger

Above section open to undergraduates only

For centuries, the largest and most influential center of Jewish
civilization was housed in the shtetls of Eastern Europe.  Not only
did the Jewish community of Eastern Europe play a formative role in
the history of the region as a whole, but its influence on Jewish
culture and identity can still be felt today.  Through an examination
of the history, culture and politics of the Jews in Poland,
Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia, we will see how the “Jews’ paradise”
of the sixteenth century gradually became the “prison of nations” in
the nineteenth century.  Some of the topics to be covered include
Jewish communal organization, messianic movements, the development
and spread of Hasidism, daily life in the shtetl, Yiddish secular
culture, and Jewish responses to radical politics.