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The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881 [Paperback]

Israel Bartal , Chaya Naor

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Book Description

Aug. 16 2006 Jewish Culture and Contexts
In the nineteenth century, the largest Jewish community the modern world had known lived in hundreds of towns and shtetls in the territory between the Prussian border of Poland and the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea. The period had started with the partition of Poland and the absorption of its territories into the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires; it would end with the first large-scale outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence and the imposition in Russia of strong anti-Semitic legislation. In the years between, a traditional society accustomed to an autonomous way of life would be transformed into one much more open to its surrounding cultures, yet much more confident of its own nationalist identity. In The Jews of Eastern Europe, Israel Bartal traces this transformation and finds in it the roots of Jewish modernity.

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"The book represents a remarkable achievement. Bartal presents the broad contours of nineteenth-century East European Jewish history even as he reworks them into a nontraditional narrative. He offers readers basic information about the staple features of the East European Jewish story-including the Hasidic and haskalah movements, the struggle for emancipation in two empires, the shtetl, population growth, urbanization, emigration, the crystallization of orthodox Judaism, and the rise of Jewish nationalism-while at the same time challenging us to think about the significance of those features in unconventional ways."-David Engel, New York University "Bartal synthesizes a crucial period and revises the traditional understanding of key events. In fact, he alters in a substantial way the 'master narrative' of modern Jewish history."-Gershon Hundert, McGill University "Bartal offers basic material about East European life... The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881 is recommended for all Judaica libraries and libraries housing works on Jewish history."-AJL Newsletter

About the Author

Israel Bartal is Avraham Harman Chair in Jewish History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among his books are The Records of the Council of the Four Lands, Volume 1: 1580-1792, Exile in the Homeland, and Poles and Jews: A Failed Brotherhood (with Magdalena Opalski).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading March 23 2007
By M. Lucka - Published on
This book was a good read for all jews, not just ashkenazi jews whos roots were from this region. I did enjoy learning about the lifestyles and how jews had not just fit into these societies, but also flourished during this time. One thing that neeeds to be brought to attention is most of this book deals with polish and russian jews, which had the 1st and 2nd highest population of jews in the world at that time, but the author failed in writing much about Romania which had the 3rd highest population of jews at the time and borders Ukraine and is directly south of Poland. Maybe so because there are sephardic jews in Romania as well as Ashkenazi, I'm not sure, but this was the only part lacking from this book. If you're gonna mention this region, Romania is directly in the middle of it. All and all an interesting read and well worth adding to my collection
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read Feb. 8 2012
By Isaac Furniss - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting look at Jewish life from approximately 1300 CE on. It covers the partitions of Poland, life in Austria, Prussia, and Russia, and more. I am reading it for a class on antisemitism in Europe and it is a nice background along with our other required readings.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, for a textbook. June 2 2008
By J. Friedman - Published on
I was assigned this book for a college course in Modern Jewish History. The book was actually very interesting and presented a compelling argument for its definition of the modern era of Jewish history. It was easy to understand and surprisingly engaging. I wouldn't pick it up for fun, but as far as school reading goes, it's a nice book to be stuck with.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cultural History often overlooked June 30 2012
By Curious - Published on
The topic is reasonably useful to depict a subject generally ignored for a large ethnic/religious group. Depending on circumstances, some similar work may need to address current handling of Islamic peoples in Europe both at this time and over the past 40-60 years. I would hope for a work that might have been a bit less textbook in nature and might convey as much the spirit of cultural as well as political conflicts.

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