Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora

Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora

Rebecca Kobrin
Distribution: World
Publication date: 05/07/2010
Format: Paperback 38 b&w illus., 4 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-22176-6
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Finalist, 2010 National Jewish Book Awards, American Jewish StudiesSelected for list of Essential Readings in American Jewish History, American Jewish Historical Society, 2010

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.

Author Bio

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.


“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

“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

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Table of Contents

Note on Orthography and Transliteration

introduction: Between Exile and Empire: Visions of Jewish Dispersal in the Age of Mass Migration
1. The Dispersal Within: Bialystok, Jewish Migration, and Urban Life in the Borderlands of Eastern Europe
2. Rebuilding Homeland in Promised Lands
3. "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, 1921–1949
5. Shifting Centers, Conflicting Philanthropists: Rebuilding, Resettling, and Remembering Jewish Bialystok in the Post-Holocaust Era

Epilogue: Diaspora and the Politics of East European Jewish Identity in the Age of Mass Migration

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