Before Hitler: East European Jewish Civilization (HGS 533)

3 credits

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.

Semester Information: 
Traditional Semester: January 2 – April 23

Current faculty


Required Reading:
- Gershon Hundert, Jews in Poland-Lithuania in the Eighteenth Century: A Genealogy of Modernity ISBN: 0520249941    Estimated Cost: $50
- Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., The Jew in the Modern World, 3rd edition, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-0195389067    Estimated Cost: $25
- Lucy Dawidowicz, ed., The Golden Tradition: Jewish Life and Thought in Eastern Europe ISBN: 0815604238    Estimated Cost: $12
- Ezra Mendelsohn, The Jews of East-Central Europe Between the Two World Wars ISBN: 0253204186    Estimated Cost: $25
- Ruth Gruber, Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe ISBN: 0520213637    Estimated Cost: $45
- Antony Polonsky, The Jews in Poland and Russia: A Short History ISBN-13: 978-1906764395    Estimated Cost: $37