This introductory chapter provides an overview of the author's collection of articles which all deal with aspects of east European Jewish life in the modern period. This was a time of transition from a society in which tradition was a key force to one in which models of the past no longer significantly determined behaviour and thought. This shift took place rapidly and under conditions that were not obviously conducive to a quick and smooth transition, and the consequences are still very evident today. The chapter explains thar divided into three sections, the book studies the workings of Jewish communities, particularly east European Jewish society. The first section deals with family formation, family reformation, and family maintenance. The second section deals with education. Finally, the last section deals with the rabbinate — not with specific rabbis but with the institution.
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