Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora
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Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora

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The mass migration of East European Jews and their resettlement in cities throughout Europe, the United States, Argentina, the Middle East and Australia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries not only transformed the demographic and cultural centers of world Jewry, it also reshaped Jews' understanding and performance of their diasporic identities. Rebecca Kobrin's study of the dispersal of Jews from one city in Poland-Bialystok-demonstrates how the act of migration set in motion a wide range of transformations that led the migrants to imagine themselves as exiles not only from the mythic Land of Israel but most immediately from their east European homeland. Kobrin explores the organizations, institutions, newspapers, and philanthropies that the Bialystokers created around the world and that reshaped their perceptions of exile and diaspora.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 380 pages
  • 149.86 x 228.6 x 27.94mm | 544.31g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 38 b&w illus., 4 maps
  • 0253221765
  • 9780253221766
  • 751,424

Review quote

Kobrin (Jewish history, Columbia) analyzes the Jewish migration experience from Bialystok in the 19th and 20th centuries. Adopting a transnational perspective, she seeks to place Jewish migration from eastern Europe to the US in a broader global context in which the US is not a land unto itself, but one of several locales in which migration and integration occurred. In doing so, Kobrin argues that Bialystok Jews constructed a transnational self-perception, melding together their eastern European Jewish heritage and their new homelands. They subsequently expressed this new sense of identity through cultural and philanthropic organizations focused on Bialystok emigrants and their descendants as a specific group with their own specific diaspora experience. This migration, she concludes, 'radically revised and reconfigured the ideological cornerstones of modern Jewish life.' Kobrin's study builds upon previous work by scholars like Nancy Green who utilize a divergent analysis of migration--not studying merely one destination, but comparing the experiences of immigrants in different cities or countries. Kobrin's well-written, well-researched book advances this approach, providing a valuable resource for scholars and students alike. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- Choice J. Haus, Kalamazoo College, February 2011 "Kobrin's well-written, well-researched book [provides] a valuable resource for scholars and students alike... Recommended." -Choice "This well-researched and innovative study is both an account of the history of Jewish Bialystok and of the way its diaspora was mobilized to support Jewish life in the town from abroad... It... provides a new way of examining the relation between East European Jewish emigrants and the lands from which they set out to make new lives elsewhere." -The Russian Review, Vol. 70.2, April 2011 "... fascinating from first page to last." -Sir Martin Gilbert "Kobrin's wide-ranging analysis draws on huge and impressive variety of sources and many of the scholarly debates that her work relates to are very well explained... [This book] is a rare contribution to contemporary debates about migration" -H-Judaic "A work of truly extraordinary scope, driven by admirable intellectual ambition. It is exhilarating to come across a work of such imagination and originality." -Jonathan Frankel, author of Crisis, Revolution, and Russian Jews "Challenges and refines long-standing assumptions about Old World/New World dynamics generally and Jewish immigrants to America in particular... Original and smartly conceived, grounded in careful, extensive research and thoughtful analysis." -Jeffrey Shandler, Rutgers University "An imaginative and original work. It offers an intriguing argument that in the first half of the 20th century, diaspora Jewish identities were defined through a constant, dynamic process of interaction between the place of origin and the several sites of immigration." -Derek Penslar, University of Toronto "This thoughtful, strikingly original work of scholarship possesses the added value of being readable (and, one hopes, appreciated) by an audience beyond specialists in the field... In sum, this book's contribution to Russian, east European, American, and 'diapora' studies is truly extraordinary." -Slavic Review, Vol. 70.3, Fall 2011 "Rebecca Kobrin is to be commended for her stimulating and thought-provoking study." -Shofar "[T]his illuminating case study sheds useful comparative and conceptual light, first and foremost on the notions of transnationalism and colonialism and the relationship between homeland and diaspora." -Austrian History Yearbook "Carefully researched and clearly written, this book offers a rich picture of a transnational Jewish community. Kobrin's novel approach to the study of Jewish history is significant for scholars committed to understanding the complex threads that wove together the early twentieth-century Jewish world." -American Historical Review "This is a stimulating, pathbreaking book, and it is a pleasure to read." -Jewish History "This ambitious study is rigorous and highly impressive in its scope and methodology... There is no doubt that Jewish Bialystok and its Diaspora is a field-shaping study, which crosses quite a few disciplinary borders marked by Jewish history, diaspora and migration studies and transnational communication, as well as memory and identity studies." -Journal of Modern Jewish Studies "In addition to original and illuminating research, Jewish Bialystock and Its Diaspora is to be commended for its lucid style of writing. Kobrin knows how to tell a story, arousing the reader's curiosity from the very first page." -Studies in Contemporary Jewry "This excellent study very forcefully and convincingly shows that 'many early twentieth-century East European immigrant Jews saw the pain of exile not only in relation to ancient Zion but in reference to East Europe', demostrating that 'Jews have always harbored a complex web of longings for many real and imagined homelands'." -Journal of Jewish Studiesshow more

About Rebecca Kobrin

Rebecca Kobrin is Assistant Professor of Jewish History at Columbia University. She is author (with Adam Shear) of an exhibition catalog, From Written to Printed Text: The Transmission of Jewish Tradition.show more

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsNote on Orthography and Transliterationintroduction: Between Exile and Empire: Visions of Jewish Dispersal in the Age of Mass Migration1. The Dispersal Within: Bialystok, Jewish Migration, and Urban Life in the Borderlands of Eastern Europe2. Rebuilding Homeland in Promised Lands3. "Buying Bricks for Bialystok": Philanthropy and the Bonds of the New Jewish Diaspora 4. Rewriting the Jewish Diaspora: Images of Bialystok in the Transnational Bialystok Jewish Press, 1921-19495. Shifting Centers, Conflicting Philanthropists: Rebuilding, Resettling, and Remembering Jewish Bialystok in the Post-Holocaust EraEpilogue: Diaspora and the Politics of East European Jewish Identity in the Age of Mass MigrationNotesBibliographyIndexshow more

Rating details

13 ratings
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4 46% (6)
3 31% (4)
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