Marginalized Jews:
Communal Outcasts in Eastern Europe

Memoirs of Jewish life in Eastern European often recall the “hekdesh,” a Jewish poorhouse-cum-hospital, which took in the most marginalized members of the shtetl: beggars, the disabled, the “mad,” the destitute, and orphans. 

Professors Natan Meir and Sylvie Anne Golderberg will base their conversation on Dr. Meir’s most recent book Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800–1939. The book shines light on one of the darkest corners of Jewish life during this period. Professors Meir and Goldberg, from historical and cultural perspectives, will explore this understudied social phenomenon and examine rituals connected to communal misfortune, such as the cholera wedding, which played a significant role in prewar Jewish life.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

PDT: 11:00 a.m.

EDT: 2:00 p.m.

UK: 7:00 p.m.

CET: 8:00 p.m.

Israel: 9:00 p.m.

Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies in the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University. A scholar of the social and cultural history of East European Jewry, he is the author of Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859–1914 (2010) and Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800–1939 (2020). He also serves as a museum consultant and leads study tours of Eastern Europe.

Sylvie Anne Goldberg is a professor as well as the director of Jewish Studies at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris. Her book Clepsydra: Essay on the Plurality of Time in Judaism was published in 2016. Professor Goldberg is the editor of Comment s’écrit l’histoire juive (How is Jewish  History Written) and is currently working on a new book by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Transmitting Jewish History: In Conversation with Sylvie Anne Goldberg, to be published by Brandeis University Press later this year.

Field Guide to Jewish Warsaw

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