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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 1Poles and Jews: Renewing the Dialogue$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113171

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113171.001.0001

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Ashkenazic Jewry and Catastrophe

Ashkenazic Jewry and Catastrophe

Chapter:
(p.327) Ashkenazic Jewry and Catastrophe
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 1
Author(s):

Steven J. Zipperstein

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113171.003.0024

This chapter discusses Ashkenazic Jewry and catastrophe. When Simon Dubnow was invited to contribute to the first volume of the Yiddish-language Historishe shriftn (1929), he submitted a piece on the 18th-century Jewish catastrophe in Uman. The article, an essay accompanying two annotated versions of Jewish folk chronicles on the massacre, was written in 1921 in the wake of the Ukrainian pogroms of the previous year that left as many as 70,000 Jews dead. Dubnow stated that the Khmelnitsky pogroms of 1648, the Uman massacre, and the recent devastations following World War I were part of a continuous, seamless saga. Reactions to catastrophe such as Dubnow's, observes David G. Roskies in Against the Apocalypse, with their tendency to concentrate on the cyclical nature of horror, are harmful and yet very persuasive. Indeed, the tendency to understand catastrophe along these lines is deeply embedded in the Jewish consciousness, he contends. Such responses may be traced back to rabbinical liturgical poetry and even earlier; they continue to shape Jewish literary reactions to catastrophe to the present day.

Keywords:   Ashkenazic Jewry, catastrophe, Simon Dubnow, Jewish catastrophe, Jewish consciousness, rabbinical liturgical poetry, Jewish literary reactions

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