An emphasis on education has long been a salient feature of the Jewish experience. The pervasive presence of schools and teachers, books and libraries, and youth movements, even in an environment as tumultuous as that of nineteenth-and twentieth-century eastern Europe, is clear from the historical records. Historians of the early modern and modern eras frequently point to the centrality of educational institutions and pursuits within Jewish society, yet the vast majority treat them as merely a reflection of the surrounding culture. Only a small number note how schools and teachers could contribute in dynamic ways to the shaping of local communities and cultures.
This volume addresses this gap in the portrayal of the Jewish past by presenting education as an active and potent force for change. It moves beyond a narrow definition of Jewish education by treating formal and informal training in academic or practical subjects with equal attention. In so doing, it sheds light not only on schools and students, but also on informal educators, youth groups, textbooks, and numerous other devices through which the mutual relationship between education and Jewish society is played out. It also places male and female education on a par with each other, and considers with equal attention students of all ages, religious backgrounds, and social classes.
The essays in this volume span two centuries of Jewish history, from the Austrian and Russian empires to the Second Republic of Poland and the Polish People's Republic. The approach is interdisciplinary, with contributors treating their subject from fields as varied as east European cultural history, gender studies, and language politics. Collectively, they highlight the centrality of education in the vision of numerous Jewish individuals, groups, and institutions across eastern Europe, and the degree to which this vision interacted with forces within and external to Jewish society. In this way they highlight the interrelationship between Jewish educational endeavours, the Jewish community, and external economic, political, and social forces.
As in earlier volumes, the 'New Views' section we include in this volume contains articles on a range of topics: the historiography of the shtetl, antisemitic campaigns in interwar Poland, the gender perspective on the rescue of Jews in Poland during the Second World War, Julian Tuwim's self-fashioning, and a discussion on a report on the situation in Poland in mid-1941 prepared by Roman Catholic activists. Also part of the volume is an interview with David Roskies on his most recent book on Holocaust literature, conducted by Paweł Wolski.
Polin is sponsored by the Institute of Polish--Jewish Studies, which is an associated institute of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and by [End Page vii] the American Association for Polish–Jewish Studies, which is linked with the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University. As with earlier issues, this volume could not have appeared without the untiring assistance of many individuals. In particular, we should like to express our gratitude to Professor Ron Liebowitz, president of Brandeis University, to Mrs Irene Pipes, president of the American Association for Polish–Jewish Studies, and to Andrzej Szkuta, treasurer of the Institute for Polish–Jewish Studies. These three institutions all made substantial contributions to the cost of producing the volume. A particularly important contribution was that made by the Mirisch and Lebenheim Foundation, and the volume also benefited from grants from the Koret Foundation and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation. As was the case with earlier volumes, this one could not have been published without the constant assistance and supervision of Connie Webber, managing editor of the Littman Library, Ludo Craddock, chief executive officer, whose retirement we greatly regret, Janet Moth, publishing co-ordinator, Pete Russell, designer, and the tireless copyediting of Mark Newby, Witold Turopolski, and Joyce Rappoport.
Plans for future volumes of Polin are well advanced. Volume 31 will be devoted to a comparison of the situation over the longue durée of Jews in Poland and Hungary, volume 32 will investigate Jewish musical life in the Polish lands, and volume 33 will examine Jewish religious life in Poland since 1750. Future volumes are planned on Jewish autonomy in the Polish lands, on Poland and Israel including...