Memory and History
This chapter discusses the different eras in Russian Jewish history in which Pauline Wengeroff's Memoirs of a Grandmother is set. Wengeroff's two volumes share an overarching theme: Jewish tradition and its loss in modernity. Volume I reflects the years of her childhood and adolescence during the reign of Nicholas I. The Russian Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) took off as a movement and became a potent cultural force and challenge to traditional Jewish society in these years because of policies of Tsar Nicholas I. Volume II spans the years from mid-century to the death of Wengeroff's husband, Chonon, in 1892. It is about the overlapping destinies of her family and Russian Jewry in these decades, when Jewish modernity was no longer emerging but fully unfolding. This was the era of Alexander II, whose policies, liberal and reactionary, profoundly shaped the experience of modern Russian Jewry, and of Alexander III. The chapter then looks at the tsarist Jewry policies and Jewish society under Alexander II and III, considering the 'selective integration' policy and the emergence of the new Russian Jewish elite.
Keywords: Pauline Wengeroff, Memoirs of a Grandmother, Jewish tradition, Jewish modernity, Russian Haskalah, Jewish society, Russian Jewry, tsarist Jewry policies, selective integration, Russian Jewish elite
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