Monthly Archives: November 2015

New Acquisition: ‘Jewish Rights, National Rites: Nationalism and Autonomy in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia’ by Simon Rabinovitch

pid_23788Abstract (source): In its full-color poster for elections to the All-Russian Jewish Congress in 1917, the Jewish People’s Party depicted a variety of Jews in seeking to enlist the support of the broadest possible segment of Russia’s Jewish population. It forsook neither traditional religious and economic life like the Jewish socialist parties, nor life in Europe like the Zionists. It embraced Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian as fulfilling different roles in Jewish life. It sought the democratization of Jewish communal self-government and the creation of new Russian Jewish national-cultural and governmental institutions. Most importantly, the self-named “folkists” believed that Jewish national aspirations could be fulfilled through Jewish autonomy in Russia and Eastern Europe more broadly. Ideologically and organizationally, this party’s leadership would profoundly influence the course of Russian Jewish politics.

Jewish Rights, National Rights provides a completely new interpretation of the origins of Jewish nationalism in Russia. It argues that Jewish nationalism, and Jewish politics generally, developed in a changing legal environment where the idea that nations had rights was beginning to take hold, and centered on the demand for Jewish autonomy in Eastern Europe. Drawing on numerous archives and libraries in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Israel, Simon Rabinovitch carefully reconstructs the political movement for Jewish autonomy, its personalities, institutions, and cultural projects. He explains how Jewish autonomy was realized following the February Revolution of 1917, and for the first time assesses voting patterns in November 1917 to determine the extent of public support for Jewish nationalism at the height of the Russian revolutionary period. (Stanford University Press, 2014)


New Acquisition: ‘The Swedish Jews and the Victims of Nazi Terror, 1933-1945’ by Pontus Rudberg
Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Historica Upsaliensia 253, Editores: Margaret Hunt, Jan Lindegren & Maria Agren.

Abstract: “We will be judged in our own time and in the future by measuring the aid that we, inhabitants of a free and fortunate country, gave to our brethren in this time of greatest disaster.” This declaration, made shortly after the Pogroms of November 1938 by the representatives of the Jewish communities in Sweden, was truer than anyone could have anticipated at the time. It is this sensitive and much debated issue – Jewish responses to the persecutions and mass murders of Jews during the Nazi era – with which this book deals. What actions did Swedish Jews take to aid the Jews in Europe during the years 1933-45 and what determined and constrained their policies and actions?

This book focuses especially on the aid efforts of the Jewish Community of Stockholm, showing the range of activities in which the Community engaged, and the challenges and opportunities presented by official refugee policy in Sweden and by international organizations for refugee aid and foreign relief to Jews. Wheareas previous research has tended to see the Swedish Jewish response to Nazi terror as passive and overly cautious, this book modifies this picture. It concludes that in fact Swedish Jews acted incessantly and on many fronts to aid their brethren, and they did so throughout the entire period 1933 to 1945. Moreover, the form and limited scope of that aid are ultimately attributable more to rigid governmental refugee policies, inadequate financial resources, and international pressures than to a lack of effort or will on the part of Swedish Jews.