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YIVO’s Aspirantur and the Training of Jewish Scholars in Eastern Europe on the Eve of the Holocaust
Mar 26 2012


Natalia Aleksiun, Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish History, Touro College

During the Second Polish Republic the history of East European Jews became a well-defined professional field, with its own scholarly literature, journals, research questions and methodological and ideological debates. A number of cultural and historical factors contributed to the emergence of this field, not least of which were the growing intellectual tradition within the Jewish community and the virtual exclusion of Jewish scholars from many academic institutions. As a result, many Jewish historians were forced to rely on formal and informal networks and on private organizations established within the Jewish community. What emerged from this combination of resources was therefore both a history of the Jewish community and, in and of itself, a reflection of that community as it existed in the interwar period. At the center of this process was the Dr. Tsemakh Shabad Aspirantur (graduate school), founded in 1934. During its four-year existence, the Aspirantur brought together established Jewish academics and helped to train the next generation of Jewish scholars. This lecture explores this unique program in the social and cultural context of the Jewish community in Vilna and in comparison with ideas formulated in other Jewish centers, especially Warsaw.

Aspirantur Audio