This varied and broad collection of essays goes a long way toward filling in our appreciation of the thousand-year cultural heritage of Jews in Europe. Eastern European Jewry’s destruction sixty-five years ago is mentioned only elliptically in the last chapter; the focus of discussion is the “near-history” of the previous three centuries of Jewish symbiosis with Polish and Russian political, literary, and theatric productivity.
Culture Front is written by and mostly for an academic audience. Yet the reader interested in European Jewish life will encounter a feast of investigations ranging from the Yiddish theatre in Warsaw to the texture of political debates on inclusion of Jews in pre-World War II civil society to early Zionist Hebrew literature to the engagement of Jews in pre-Revolutionary Russian politics.
Among the most engaging essays are those which deftly illustrate a moment in time in the cultural life of Jews feeling the euphoria of (what they felt to be) a much fuller share in the stage or the literature or the political awakenings of Eastern Europe.