Cul­ture Front: Rep­re­sent­ing Jews in East­ern Europe

Ben­jamin Nathans and Gabriel­la Safran, eds.

  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

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.

Joseph A. Kanof­sky holds a Ph.D. in lit­er­a­ture, and rab­binic ordi­na­tion. He is an edu­ca­tion­al con­sul­tant to the UJA-Fed­er­a­tion of Greater Toronto.

Discussion Questions