FALL 2006


History 35                                                                                     Bob Weinberg (rweinbe1)

Trotter 218                                                                                    8133

Office Hours:  Monday 1-3

                        Wednesday 1-3

                        And By Appointment



From Emancipation to Extermination:

European Jewry’s Encounter with Modernity


Why did the hopes and promises shared by so many West and East European Jews at the beginning of the nineteenth century literally turn into ashes in the death camps of Nazi Germany?  This course focuses on the fate of West and East European Jewry from the beginning of Jewish emancipation in the eighteenth century to the Holocaust.  Major themes include the process of emancipation, the transformation of Jewish self-identity, and collective responses to modern antisemitism.  Special attention is paid to situating the history of European Jewry in the context of general social, political, intellectual, and economic trends and developments.


Course Requirements:


Three five-page papers

Eight-page research paper

In-class final exam

Class participation and attendance


Class sessions will be a mix of lecture and discussion of readings.  It is imperative that you keep up with the assignments and come to each class prepared to discuss them.


All students are expected to read the College’s policy on academic honesty and integrity that appears in the Swarthmore College Bulletin.  The work you submit must be your own, and plagiarism will be penalized.  Any work containing plagiarized material will be granted the grade of “no credit” and may subject you to prosecution by the College Judiciary Council.  When in doubt, check with me.


In addition, I will not accept late papers and will assign a failing grade for the assignment unless you notify me and receive permission to submit the paper after the due date.  Students are required to attend all classes, and unexcused absences will result in a lower grade.


The following books are available for purchase and are also on reserve in McCabe:


Rachel Calof, Rachel Calof’s Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains

Lloyd Gartner, A History of the Jews in Modern Times

Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., The Jew in the Modern World, 2nd edition

Joseph Roth, The Wandering Jews

Helmut Walser Smith, The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Antisemitism in a German Town


The following reference works may also be useful:


Blackwell Companion to Jewish Culture: From the Eighteenth Century to

the Present (In Reference)

Norman Roth, ed., Medieval Jewish Civilization (In Reference)

The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica (In Reference)

Encyclopedia Judaica (In Reference)

Evyatar Friesel, Atlas of Modern Jewish History (In Reference)

Geoffrey Wigoder, Dictionary of Jewish Biography

Martin Goodman, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies


The following websites provide links to dozens of websites devoted to Jewish Studies:


Web Sites for Jewish Studies:  http://www.princeton.edu/~pressman/jewebs.html

Center for Jewish History:  http://www.cjh.org/  Go to the “Sites of Interest” link

Educational Program on Yiddish Culture:  http://epyc.yivo.org

Bibliography of Websites:  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/bibliowf.html

Beyond the Pale: The History of the Jews in Russia: http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/



September 5: Introduction: Themes of the Course


September 7: European Jewry on the Eve of Emancipation


Salon Baron, “Ghetto and Emancipation” and “Newer Approaches to Emancipation” BB


September 12: European Jewry on the Eve of Emancipation


Gartner, chapters 1 and 2

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 18-20

Watch the film Jud Suss (90 minutes) before class.  On reserve in McCabe


September 14: Emancipation in England: The Social Variant


Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 8-17, 21-22, 27-28, 146-150, and 151-152


September 19: Emancipation in France: The Legal/Political Variant


Gartner, start reading chapters 3-5 for next several classes

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 114-136


September 21: Emancipation in Central Europe: The Intellectual Variant


Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 28-40, 42-44, 48-49, 70-74, and 144-145

Michael Meyer, The Origins of the Modern Jew, pp. 8-56 and 85-114 BB

Monika Richarz, ed., Jewish Life in Germany: Memoirs from Three Centuries (Selections by Ascher Lehmann, Isaac Thannhauser, Eduard Silbermann, and Faibel Siegel) BB


September 26: Emancipation in the Russian Empire


Gartner, chapter 6

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 375-386 and 400-404


September 28: Jews in Arab Lands


Gartner, chapter 7




October 3: Emancipation in Perspective


The following essays are useful summaries of what we have been discussing for the past several weeks:

Paula Hyman, The Social Contexts of Assimilation: Village Jews and City Jews in Alsace” BB

Pierre Birnbaum, “Between Social and Political Assimilation: Remarks on the History of Jews in France” BB

Michael Stanislawski, “Russian Jewry, the Russian State, and the Dynamics of Jewish Emancipation” BB

Werner Mosse, “From `Schutzjuden’ to `Deutsche Staatsburger Judischen Glaubens’: The Long and Bumpy Road to Jewish Emancipation in Germany” BB


October 5: Religious Reform and Counter-Reform


Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 161, 167-173, 177-185, and 194-197


October 10: The Rejection of Emancipation and the Emergence of Modern Antisemitism


Gartner, start reading chapter 8

Shulamit Volkov, “The Written Matter and the Spoken Word” BB

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 304-305, 309-312, 325-334, 339-350, and 356-367


October 12:  Honing Your Research Skills


Meet in Computer Classroom, McCabe Library, 3rd Floor


October 24: Life in the Old Country


Isaac Bashevis Singer, “Why the Geese Shrieked,” “A Major Din Torah,” and “The Boy Philosopher”  BB

Eva Hoffmann, Shtetl, chapter 2 BB

Isaac Babel, “The Story of My Dovecot” BB

Sholem Asch, “Kola Street” BB


October 26: The Blood Libel


Helmut Walser Smith, The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Antisemitism in a German Town




October 31: Jewish Responses to Antisemitism: The Liberal and Radical Variants


Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 417-423

Vladimir Medem, “The Youth of a Bundist” BB

Leon Trotsky, “A Social Democrat Only” BB

Bronislaw Gasser, “From Pole to Jew” BB


November 2: Jewish Responses to Antisemitism: Immigration


Rachel Calof, Rachel Calof’s Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains

Watch the film The Yidishe Gaucho (30 minutes) for class. On reserve in McCabe


November 7: Jewish Responses to Antisemitism: The Nationalist Variant


Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, “The Third Redemption” BB

Rabbi Zvi Kalischer, “Seeking Zion” BB

Peretz Smolenskin, “It is Time to Plant” and Let Us Search Our Ways” BB

Leo Pinsker, “Auto-Emancipation” BB


November 9: Jewish Responses to Antisemitism: The Nationalist Variant


Theodor Herzl, “The Jewish State” BB

Ahad Ha-Am, “The Jewish State and the Jewish Problem” and “The Negation of the Diaspora” BB

Yehiel Michael Pines, “Jewish Nationalism Cannot Be Secular” and “Religion is the Source of Jewish Nationalism” BB

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 493-497, 538-543, 547-548, and 565-566


November 14: Jews and European Culture: The Reshaping of Jewish Identity


Franz Kafka, “Report to the Academy” BB

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 254-262, 267-268, 272-275, and 282-284.

Marion Kaplan, “Gender and Jewish History in Imperial Germany” BB


November 16: No Class


November 21: Jews under Communism


Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 428-436


November 28: Jews in Interwar Europe


Gartner, start reading chapter 9

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, pp. 437-439 and 440-442

Ezra Mendelsohn, “Jewish Politics in Interwar Poland: An Overview” BB

Marion Kaplan, “Jewish Women in Nazi Germany: Daily Life, Daily Struggles” BB

Watch the film Image Before My Eyes (90 minutes) for class.  On reserve in McCabe


November 30: European Jews View Themselves


Joseph Roth, The Wandering Jews




December 5: Defining Jewishness in the Modern World


“Oswald Rufeisen v. Minister of the Interior” BB


December 7: European Jewry after the Holocaust


Philip Roth, “Eli, the Fanatic” BB


December 12: In-Class Final Exam