01 November 2009

Seattle: Eastern European Jewry, Nov. 9

Eastern European Jewry up to the great migration, with Professor Natan M. Meir, will be discussed at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, on Monday, November 9.

Doors open at 7pm and the program begins at 7.30pm at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The JCC offers Wi-Fi, so bring your laptops. The JGSW library will also be available for attendees.

Although many American Jews think that their Eastern European ancestors were “traditional” shtetl Jews until they left for the US, the historical reality was more complicated.

This program will survey the history of Eastern European Jews from the twilight of old Poland at the end of the 18th century through the vicissitudes of subjectship under the 19th century Russian Empire. Gain an understanding of the vitality of Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the multiple crises that Russian and Polish Jews faced at the turn of the 20th century – the age of the “Great Migration.”

Topics will include tsarist policies towards Jews, Jewish leadership shifts, the roles of pogroms and anti-Semitism, internal cultural and religious dynamics, as well as economic and demographic transformations.

The program will mainly cover the Russian Empire (Pale of Settlement) but will also refer to Russian Poland (Congress Kingdom) and Austrian Galicia.

Born in Jerusalem and raised in New Jersey and Quebec, Natan M. Meir is the Lokey Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University (Oregon). He holds a Ph.D in Jewish History (Columbia University), taught at the University of Southampton (UK), and was a Hebrew University Yad Hanadiv postdoctoral fellow.

His interest is modern Jewish history, focusing on the social and cultural history of East European Jewry in the 19th-20th centuries. His first book, "Kiev: Jewish Metropolis, 1859-1914," is forthcoming from Indiana University Press, and he's now working on a second project tentatively titled "Jewish Marginals in Eastern Europe."

Admission: JGSWS members, free; others, $5.

For more information, visit the JGSWS website.

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