• In 1860 a Jewish weekly was launched in Odessa, the first
    written in Russian, under the title Rassvet(Dawn). It marks the beginning of a new era of cultural affiliation for those
    Jewish writers who, under the influence of Haskala hoped to express Jewish
    content in modern form for a broader audience, and also to lead the Jewish masses
    to progress, civilization and civil well-being. 80 years of Russian-Jewish
    literature reflect all the pitfalls and achievements of this aspiration of
    assimilation that ended its era in the Soviet Union about 1940. 

  • This course explores
    transformations in the political, social, and cultural life of East European
    Jewry in the modern era, starting with the breakup of the early modern Polish
    state and ending with the Holocaust.  

                When the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was dismembered
    in the late 18th century, East European Jews encountered a brave new
    world: new political arrangements and, increasingly, ideologies, demanded new
    modes of interaction with the state and surrounding society; global economic
    transformations wrought havoc with traditional livelihoods, provoking
    far-reaching changes in everyday life and mentalities; new intellectual vistas
    suggested alternative secular identities as well as innovative understandings
    of religiosity and tradition. By the early twentieth century, the communities
    spread throughout the lands of the former Commonwealth represented the largest
    and most vibrant concentration of Jewish cultural, political, and intellectual
    life in the world. Few could imagine or predict the catastrophe that lay ahead.

                In keeping with current historiographical trends, this
    course will look beyond the actions and writings of well-known individuals to
    the “Jewish street,” considering responses by ordinary men and women to the
    changes taking place around them. Readings will focus primarily on the
    geographic areas of Poland and Russia/the Soviet Union, but students are
    welcome to propose research papers dealing with Jews of other countries in the


  • Course Description

    After the fall of Communism, overt antisemitism made an appearance in the East-Central European countries. Until the transition years, many people had believed – not without reason – that traditional antisemitic language had been eradicated from the public discourse by the enforced silence of decades of Communist rule, the almost complete taboo surrounding Jewish topics, legal sanctions against antisemitism, and a ban on antisemitic utterances. However, antisemitism did not simply emerge out of nothing after the fall of Communism. In their efforts to impose the fullest possible control over society, the communist parties that seized power in East-Central Europe after World War II eliminated the political, religious, social and cultural institutions of surviving Jewry or made them dependent on the state. However, despite of their total control over Jewish institutions and Jewish community life, the East-Central European communist parties continuously and systematically have seen a disturbing factor in the conflicting historical memories about Jews and in the presence of Jews in the Polish, Czechoslovak and Hungarian society. They permanently kept the problem on the political agenda, and this way they permanently (re)constructed their own “Jewish questions”, what, then, they wanted eagerly to “solve”. The course will focus on this policy offive Communist states: Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the German Democratic Republic and point at the factors which preserved and regenerated the “Jeiwsh Question” in the post-war decades. The subjects discussed in the class are the following:

    ·Demography and social structure of the survivor Jewish population

    ·Reconstruction of Jewish institutional life; reintegration in the post-war society; conflicts around Jewish property restitution/recompensation;

    ·Post-war popular antisemitism, post-war pogroms (Kielce, Kunmadaras, etc.);

    ·Establishment of the State of Israel and the policy of the Communist parties related to it;

    ·Emigration policy, esp. with regards to Palestine and later Israel;

    ·Jews and leaders of Jewish origin in the Communist movements and parties; the accusation of “Jewish Communism”

    ·Anti-Zionist campaigns, trials and their representation in the mass media;

    ·Position and politics of Jewish institutions in the Communist states; the problems of collaboration and resistance;

    ·Jewish identity options, changes in conditions for identity construction, Jewish grass-root movements under Communist rule

  • In cooperation with the Hebrew Studies Department at Eötvös Loránd University, CEU Jewish Studies will organize a two-day field trip to the Jewish monuments in seven cities of Southern Hungary and Serbia. Our overnight stay will be in Szeged, where we will visit Lipót Baumhorn's splendid fin-de-siècle synagogue. The following morning, we will cross the border into Serbia and admire the Art Nouveau synagogue of Subotica/Szabadka. On our way, we will learn about Jewish history in the region and discover further architectural highlights in Apostag, Baja, Jánoshalma, Kecskemét and Nagykőrös. English-language explanations of sites and monuments will be given by faculty members Viktória Bányai (ELTE), Rudolf Klein (Szent István University Budapest) and Carsten Wilke (CEU). The field trip is part of the CEU class "Excursions into Jewish History and Culture"; students of the Jewish Studies Specialization and guests from the CEU community are invited to join.

  • This course attempts to define and describe a distinct era in Jewish cultural and social history roughly between 1500-1800. Early modernity for Jews represents more than a transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity and needs to be viewed as a critical stage in the formation of Jewish civilization. The course focuses on five markers of the period: enhanced mobility of communities and individuals; communal cohesiveness and laicization; a knowledge explosion engendered by the printing press and the University; a crisis of authority precipitated by radical messianism; and the blurring of religious, social, and cultural boundaries, especially between Jews and Christians. The course looks at these trends by studying comparatively the Jewish communities of Italy, the western Sephardim, the Germanic communities, and those of Poland-Lithuania and the Ottoman Empire.