Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry

Derek Penslar seminar

The Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry was established at the Davis Center in the fall of 2017 with the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group. The Project is directed by Maxim D. Shrayer.

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St. Petersburg SynagogueThe Project seeks to increase the knowledge and appreciation of the rich history and culture of Russian-speaking Jews by bringing together scholars and experts from around the world. The Project sponsors seminars, panels, symposia, public programs and related activities to promote and broaden the study of the history, culture, identity and legacy of the Jews of Russia and Eurasia. The Project encourages interdisciplinary inquiry on critical topics related to Russian and Eurasian Jewish identity and contributions. 

One of the Project’s principal arms is the Seminar on Russian and Eurasian Jewry, which features innovative thinkers, practitioners, authors, journalists and historians.

Great Russian Jews Who Shaped the World is the theme of the 2018–2019 series. Its four panels will examine the contributions, achievements and legacies of four great individuals—Israel’s fourth prime minister, Golda Meir; author and Shoah witness Vasily Grossman; violin virtuoso David Oistrakh; and World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik. The lives of these talented, charismatic and influential figures began in the former Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and spanned much of 20th century.

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The lectures and symposia sessions will be recorded and made available online to the public and organizations working to engage Russian-speaking Jews around the world.

New Recordings

Jewish Odessa: Trade, Community, and Culture in the Port City
Patricia Herlihy, Professor Emerita, Brown University; Center Associate, Davis Center
Moderated by Maxim D. Shrayer
May 2, 2018

Brodsky Among Us: One Book, Two Cultures
Ellendea Proffer Teasley, Author; Co-founder, Ardis Publishers and Russian Literature Triquarterly
Moderated by Maxim D. Shrayer
April 18, 2018

Russian Jews in Italy: 1905-1922
Stefano Garzonio, Professor of Slavic Studies, Pisa University
Respondent: Stanley Rabinowitz, Henry Steele Commager Professor, Amherst College; Center Associate, Davis Center
Moderated by Maxim D. Shrayer
March 14, 2018

The Wrong Family Holocaust Story: Survival of Polish Jews in Stalin's Russia
Ellen G. Friedman, Professor, The College of New Jersey
Respondent: Joshua Rubenstein, Associate Director, Major Gifts, Harvard Law School; Center Associate, Davis Center
Moderated by Maxim D. Shrayer
February 14, 2018

Pogroms, Genocide, and Migration Crises in 1919-1921 Ukraine
Jeffrey Veidlinger, Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan
Irina Astashkevich, Visiting Research Associate of the Tauber Institute for the Study of East European Jewry, Brandeis University
November 15, 2017

New Literary Geography: Demarginalization of Contemporary Russophone Literature in Israel
Roman Katsman, Professor of the Department of Literature of the Jewish People, Bar-Ilan University
Moderated by Maxim D. Shrayer
October 11, 2017

Messiah or "Simple Son"? Theodor Herzl and East European Jewry
Derek Penslar, Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History; University of Toronto; Stanley Lewis Visiting Professor of Israel Studies, University of Oxford; Visiting Professor, Department of History, Harvard University
Moderated by Maxim D. Shrayer

Check back soon for more recordings.