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Inhaltsangabe: The Kingdom of Poland, also known as the Congress Kingdom or Russian Poland, was created by a decision of the Congress of Vienna as part of its attempt to set up a post-Napoleonic European order. It incorporated lands that for many decades had been the most important centers of Polish politics, finance, education, and culture, and which also had the largest concentration of Jews in eastern Europe. Because of these factors, and because its semi-autonomous status allowed for the development of a liberal policy towards Jews quite different from that of Russia proper, the Kingdom of Poland became a fertile ground for the growth of Jewish cultural and political movements of all sorts, many of which continue to be influential to this day. This book brings together a wide range of scholars to present a broad view of the Jewish life of this important area at a critical moment in its history. In the 19th century, tradition vied with modernization for Jews' hearts and minds. In the Kingdom of Poland, traditional hasidic leaders defied the logic of modernization by creating courts near major urban centers such as Warsaw and Lodz and shtiblekh within them, producing innovative and influential homiletic literature and attracting new followers. Modernizing maskilim, for their part, found employment as government officials and took advantage of the liberal climate to establish educational institutions and periodicals that similarly attracted followers to their own cause and influenced the development of the Jewish community in the Kingdom in a completely different direction. Their immediate successors, the Jewish integrationists, managed to gain considerable power within the Jewish community and to create a vibrant and more secular Polish Jewish culture. Subsequently, Zionism, Jewish socialism, and cultural autonomy also became significant forces. The relative strength of each movement on the eve of the rebirth of Poland is extremely difficult to measure, but, unquestionably, the ferment of so many potent competing movements was a critical factor in shaping the modern Jewish experience.
About the Author: Glenn Dynner is Professor of Religion at Sarah Lawrence College, and was the 2013-14 Senior NEH Scholar at the Center for Jewish History. He is the author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (2006) and Yankel's Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland (2013). He is also editor of Holy Dissent: Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe (2011). Antony Polonsky was born in Johannesburg, and studied history and political science at the University of the Witwatersrand. He went to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1961 and read modern history at Worcester College and St Antony's College. He taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 1970 to 1992. Since then he has been at Brandeis University, where in 1999 he was appointed Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, an appointment held jointly at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brandeis University. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Warsaw, the Institute for the Human Sciences, Vienna, and the University of Cape Town; Skirball visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies; and Senior Associate Member of St Antony's College, Oxford. Marcin Wodzinski is Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wroclaw. His special fields of interest are the social history of the Jews in the nineteenth century, the regional history of the Jews in Silesia, and Jewish sepulchral art. He is the author of several books, including Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of Poland: A History of Conflict (2005) and Hasidism and Politics: The Kingdom of Poland, 1815-1864 (2013), both published by the Littman Library, and is editor of the Bibliotheca Judaica and Makor/Zrodla series. He is vice president of the Polish Association of Jewish Studies and editor-in-chief of its periodical, Studia Judaica. In 2011 he was awarded the Jan Karski and Pola Nirenska Prize by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
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