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Eastern Jews—Western Jews: World War I and the Transformation of the Jewish Experience
Mar 30 2014

SUNDAY, MARCH 30, 2014 | 2pm
Click HERE to watch the video.

Steven Aschheim, Hebrew University; Hasia Diner, NYU; David Fishman, Jewish Theological Seminary; Anson Rabinbach, Moderator, Princeton University

World War I was a cataclysmic event. Its upheaval also led to new encounters between Eastern and Western European Jews, narrowing, exacerbating and complicating the historical divide between these two communities at the same time as anti-Semitism swelled. This roundtable examines the consequences of these encounters and the complex and changing dynamics of the Jewish East-West relationship.

This program is presented by YIVO and the Leo Baeck Institute.


Steven E. Aschheim is Emeritus Professor of History at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem where he taught Cultural and Intellectual History in the Department of History since 1982 and held the Vigevani Chair of European Studies. He also acted as the Director of the Franz Rosenzweig Research Centre for German Literature and Cultural History. He has spent sabbaticals at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and in 2002-3 was the first Mosse Exchange Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. During September-October 2005 he taught at Columbia University as the Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Scholar of German Studies. He has also taught at the University of Maryland, Reed College, the Free University in Berlin and the Central European University in Budapest. He taught at the University of Toronto in 0ctober 2008 and at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor from September-December 2009. He served as a Research Fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research in the summer of 2010 and in April-March 2011 was the Stan Gold Visiting Professor of Jewish History at Trinity College, Dublin. In 2013-2014 he is the Fellow of the Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice at New York University School of Law. Aschheim is the author of numerous books, including, Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German-Jewish Consciousness, 1800-1923 (University of Wisconsin Press) and most recently, At the Edges of Liberalism: Junctions of European, German and Jewish History (Palgrave Macmillan) published in 2012.

Hasia Diner is the Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University, with joint appointment in the department of history and the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. She is also director of the Goldstein Goren Center for American Jewish History. She has built her scholarly career around the study of American Jewish history, American immigration and ethnic history, and the history of American women. She has written about the ways in which American Jews in the early twentieth century reacted to the issue of race and the suffering of African Americans, and the process by which American Jews came to invest deep meaning in New York’s Lower East Side. Her most recent book, We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust (New York University Press) won the National Jewish Book Award in the category of American Jewish Studies. She has also written about other immigrant groups and the contours of their migration and settlement, including a study of Irish immigrant women and of Irish, Italian, and east European Jewish foodways..

David E. Fishman is professor of Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary, and serves as director of Project Judaica, a Jewish-studies program based in Moscow that is sponsored jointly by JTS and Russian State University for the Humanities. Fishman is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry. His books include Russia's First Modern Jews (New York University Press) and The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture (University of Pittsburgh Press). Dr. Fishman is the coeditor (with Burton Visotzky) of From Mesopotamia to Modernity: Ten Introductions to Jewish History and Literature (Westview Press), which also appeared in a revised Russian edition. For many years, Dr. Fishman was editor in chief of YIVO-Bleter, the Yiddish-language scholarly journal of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He recently published a volume of the Yiddish writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Fishman has taught at universities in Israel, Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania, and serves on the editorial boards of Jewish Social Studies and Polin.

Anson Rabinbach is Professor of History at Princeton University and a specialist in modern European history with an emphasis on intellectual and cultural history. He has published extensively on Nazi Germany, Austria, and European thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1974 he co-founded the premier journal of German studies in the United States, New German Critique, which he continues to co-edit. In 1979 he published The Crisis of Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to Civil War 1927-1934 (University of Chicago), a study of Austrian culture and politics between the wars. The Human Motor (University of California), an investigation of the metaphor of work and energy that provided modern thinkers with a new scientific and cultural framework to understand the human body, appeared in 1991 and has since been translated into several languages. His study of 20th century German intellectuals, In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals between Enlightenment and Apocalypse (University of California), was published in 1997. The Third Reich Sourcebook (with Sander L. Gilman; University of California), a collection of more than 400 documents with critical introductions, appeared in July 2013. His current research is on concepts invented in the 20th century, including “totalitarianism” and genocide. It emphasizes World War II exchanges between European and American intellectuals. He also writes and reviews widely for journals of opinion including The New York Times, The Times Literary Supplement, Dissent, and The Nation. He received the Viktor Adler State Prize in 1987. Professor Rabinbach has also been the recipient of Guggenheim, ACLS, and NEH fellowships.