Before Hitler: East European Jewish Civilization (HGS 533)

This is an introduction to the unique civilization that Jews built in the lands of Eastern Europe, a civilization from which nearly all American and European Jews and half of all Israeli Jews are descended, and which the Nazis devoted particular fury to destroying. The course will begin with the first Jewish settlements in Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages and end with the revival of Jewish memory in contemporary Eastern Europe. We will examine traditional Jewish lifeways, Jewish-Gentile relations, the rise of Hasidism and the Jewish Enlightenment, and the development of modern Jewish societies, political movements and literatures. This course, formerly known as Ashkenazi Roots and Jewish Life in Europe Before the Holocaust, may not be taken by students who have taken History 30537 or 40537.

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