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RABBI ADMIRAL AARON LANDES LECTURE SERIES

Fighting For Rights: Conscription and Jewish Emancipation in Modern History

Penslar headshot

Fighting for Rights: Conscription and Jewish Emancipation in Modern History

Derek J. Penslar, Ph.D.
William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History, Harvard University

Tuesday, March 8, 2022
7:00 PM ET Online 

From the French Revolution until the Second World War, Jews associated conscription with emancipation, either already achieved (as in France) or to be gained through brave and patriotic service (as in Central and East Europe). Although anti-Semites routinely accused Jews of draft-dodging, in fact Jews were often more eager to serve than others because of the desire to prove themselves as worthy of emancipation and social acceptance. This talk will compare the demands for military service made upon Jews by modern states, Jewish reactions to those demands, and the actual effect of Jews in uniform on popular perceptions of Jews.

Free program

Derek Penslar takes a comparative and transnational approach to Jewish history, which he studies within the contexts of modern capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism. Penslar’s books include Shylock’s Children: Economics and Modern Identity in Modern Europe (2001), Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective (2006), The Origins of the State of Israel: A Documentary History (with Eran Kaplan, 2011), Jews and the Military: A History (2013), and Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader(2020). Penslar is President of the American Academy for Jewish Research, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and an Honorary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford. At Harvard, Penslar is a resident faculty member at The Center for European Studies and the PhD track’s director of graduate studies in The Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

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