Quest. Issues in Contemporarary Jewish History 17 (2020)

Titel der Ausgabe 
Quest. Issues in Contemporarary Jewish History 17 (2020)
Weiterer Titel 
Thinking Europe in Yiddish

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Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History
Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea via Eupili 8 20145 Milano Italy E-Mail: <> Tel.: +39;
Wyrwa, Ulrich

The Yiddish language has its origins in Europe, more precisely in German-speaking lands. On the eve of the Second World War, there were, roughly, eleven million speakers of Yiddish in the world.

Yiddish has always been a minor language. It was never a state language, nor even the majority language of a region. Yiddish was spoken, written and printed in language enclaves dotted across large swathes of Europe. Some of these enclaves were small, consisting of a few families in a little town; in recent centuries some of these Yiddish-speaking areas encompassed tens of thousands of speakers. In the first half of the twentieth century, some of them numbered a few hundred thousand, as was the case in Warsaw. There were regions of Europe where Jews had not been allowed to settle for centuries, while in others they were part of the social and cultural fabric of their area during the same periods.

From the late nineteenth century up to 1939 the Yiddish-speaking world in Central and Eastern Europe changed dramatically. Beginning from the time of the French Revolution, Jews were gradually granted civil rights. Following the revolution of 1905, Jews in the Russian Empire were accorded civil rights, as well, the last in Europe to receive equal status as state subjects. As a result of the First World War, the Hapsburg and Romanov empires disintegrated; following this and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, nation states were created in Europe where Jews were no longer a minority among many, but the single recognizable minority or one of a small number of minorities next to a much larger majority. During the early years of the interbellum, minority cultures were able to flourish, but only a few years later growing nationalism in Europe became a danger to these very same cultures. The issue set 1939 as the year ending an era and a moment when Yiddish culture was still vital and its culture activists, thought was worthwhile to formulate thoughts about its then present-day place in Europe along with hopes and fears for its future.

Considering Yiddish concepts of Europe evoked a population and a culture that have almost entirely disappeared from the continent; the questions discussed had broad ranging implications. Questions about a minority culture beyond borders, about its views of its position on the European continent, about its future and about the conditions that would allow it to coexist with majority cultures.

Thinking Europe in Yiddish leads us to pose questions such as: What is Europe? How did Yiddish speakers, members of a transnational minority, regard Europe? What did Europe mean for speakers of Yiddish? In what ways were speakers of Yiddish part of Europe and its cultural landscapes? How were they included or excluded socially, politically and culturally? How did their culture adapt to developments in European majority cultures or react against them?



Focus: Thinking Europe in Yiddish

by Marion Aptroot

How, When, and Why Did Yiddish Become a Modern Culture?
by David E. Fishman

Marking Territory: A Flâneur's Failure in I. L. Peretz's Mayses
by Marc Caplan

"To Hell with Futurism, Too!"
The Metamorphoses of Western and Eastern European Modernism in Yiddish Manifesto
by Daria Vakhrushova

An American in Shtetl: Seeing Yiddish Europe Through the Eyes of Molly Picon
by Debra Caplan

A Quest for Yiddishland: The 1937 World Yiddish Cultural Congress
by Gennady Estraikh

Research Paths

"Poor Jews! You Get Blamed for Everything!" Hope and Despair in a Galician Yiddish Newspaper during the Revolutions of 1848-49
by Rebecca Wolpe

The Buffer Zone: Ottoman Maskilim and their Austro-Hungarian Counterparts. A Case Study
by Tamir Karkason

Editorial: Ten Years of Quest Guri Schwarz


Daniel Boyarin Judaism
The Genealogy of a Modern Notion
Discussion by Luca Arcari and Daniel Barbu


Susanne Theresia Kord, Lovable Crooks and Loathsome Jews
Antisemitism in German and Austrian Crime Writing Before the World Wars
by Lisa Silverman

Hana Kubátová, Jan Láníček (eds.), Jews and Gentiles in Central and Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. History and Memory
by Tim Corbett

Angelos Dalachanis, Vincent Lemire (eds.), Ordinary Jerusalem 1840-1940. Opening New Archives, Revisiting a Global City
by Nimrod Luz

Judith Lindenberg (ed.), Premiers savoirs de la Shoah
by Antoine Burgard

Sara Yael Hirschhorn, City on a Hilltop. American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement
by Caterina Bandini

Michael Brenner, Der lange Schatten der Revolution
Juden und Antisemiten in Hitlers München 1918 bis 1923
by Ulrich Wyrwa

Irene Aue-Ben-David, Deutsch-jüdische Geschichtsschreibung im 20 Jahrhundert. Zu Werk und Rezeption von Selma Stern
by Dominique Bourel

Joshua Teplitsky, Prince of the Press. How One Collector Built History's Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library
by Mirjam Thulin

Aomar Boum, Sarah Abrevaya Stein (eds.), The Holocaust and North Africa
by Piera Rossetto

Cordelia Hess, The Absent Jews. Kurt Forstreuter and the Historiography of Medieval Prussia
by Ingo Haar

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