The Shtetl - New Evaluations by Steven T. Katz

By Steven T. Katz

Dating from the 16th century, there have been hundreds and hundreds of shtetls—Jewish settlements—in japanese Europe that have been domestic to a wide and compact inhabitants that differed from their gentile, usually peasant associates in faith, career, language, and tradition. The shtetls have been various in very important respects from earlier sorts of Jewish settlements within the Diaspora in that Jews had not often shaped a majority within the cities within which they lived. This used to be no longer real of the shtetl, the place Jews occasionally comprised eighty% or extra of the inhabitants. whereas the shtetl started to decline in the course of the process the 19th century, it used to be the Holocaust which eventually destroyed it.

During the final thirty years the shtetl has attracted a starting to be quantity of scholarly awareness, notwithstanding gross generalizations and romanticized nostalgia proceed to impact how the subject is handled. This quantity takes a brand new examine this most crucial side of East ecu Jewish existence. It is helping to right the concept that the shtetl was once a wholly Jewish international and indicates the ways that the Jews of the shtetl interacted either with their co-religionists and with their gentile buddies. the quantity comprises chapters at the historical past of the shtetl, its myths and realities, politics, gender dynamics, how the shtetl has been (mis)represented in literature, and the adjustments caused by means of international warfare I and the Holocaust, between others.

Contributors: Samuel Kassow, Gershon David Hundert, Immanuel Etkes, Nehemia Polen, Henry Abramson, Konrad Zielinski, Jeremy Dauber, Israel Bartel, Naomi Seidman, Mikhail Krutikov, Arnold J. Band, Katarzyna Wieclawska, Yehunda Bauer, and Elie Wiesel.

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It is not surprising that the self-image of these yeshiva students was also extremely high. They regarded themselves as members of a spiritual and religious elite that everyone had to honor. This, then, was the background of the arrogant attitude of the yeshiva students toward the townspeople. Let us now return to Bar-Ilan’s memoirs. To emphasize the distance between the yeshiva and the town, Bar-Ilan points to the fact that the Volozhin Yeshiva collected contributions from every Jewish community with the exception of that of Volozhin, which was never asked to contribute.

Even in the eighteenth century, ethnic Poles were not The Importance of Demography and Patterns of Settlement 31 a majority in Poland-Lithuania. In addition to having autocthonous Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians, alongside Tatars and Romany, many of the cities and towns were distinguished by the further ethnic and religious diversity of their residents: Germans, Italians, Scots, Armenians, and Greeks. Therefore, Jews cannot be seen as a minority group when less than 20 percent of the population of the country was urban, and only 40 to 60 percent was ethnically Polish.

118. 13. See, for example, Isaiah Horowitz, Shenei luhot haberit hashalem, edited by Meir Katz (Haifa, 1997), Sha’ar ha’otiyot, nos. 342, 343, 349, 350–355, 360. 14. Hubert Vautrin, La Pologne du XVIIIe siècle vue par un precepteur francais, edited by Maria Cholewo-Flandrin (Paris, 1966), p. 61. ) 15. Emanuel Rostworowski, “Miasta i mieszczanie w ustroju Trzeciego Maja,” Sejm Czteroletni i jego tradycje, edited by Jerzy Kowecki (Warsaw, 1991), pp. 138–151. ˙ 16. Jacob Goldberg, “Polacy-Zydzi-Niemcy w Polsce w XVII–XVIII wieku,” in Mi˛edzy Polityk a˛ a Kultur˛ a (Warsaw, 1999), p.

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