Czech-Jewish and Polish-Jewish Studies: (Dis)Similarities

Galician Jews in Marienbad. Photograph from František Bányai’s collection (see his

29–30 October 2014, Prague

About Programme Participants Location / Accom.

Polish-Jewish and Czech-Jewish history are often seen as following two different lines of narrative. While historians of Bohemian and Moravian Jews tend to focus on the impact of Austrian-Jewish and German-Jewish history and tend to see Bohemian and Moravian Jews as part of west European or at least central European Jewry, historians generally associate Polish Jews with the east European Jewish experience. Both of those popular images of Czech-Jewish and Polish-Jewish history are gross over-simplifications, obscuring many shared aspects of Jewish history in these regions.

The Prague conference on 29–30 October aims to bring together scholars who specialize in the history of the Jews of Poland and/or the Bohemian Lands, in order to discuss shared topics, the current state of research, and the differences and similarities in their approaches and results.

The conference will be divided into five panels considering key topics of the history of the Jews of both regions. These topics have been chosen to cover the major aspects of the Jewish experience and to compare research on these topics in both of the histories. The five panels will discuss (1) the Jewish experience in early modern societies; (2) Jewish demography and migration; (3) questions of gender and family; (4) new approaches to concepts of modernization and identity; and (5) Jewish experience in post-war societies. Each panel is planned to include four papers. Two of the four papers will provide an overview and will analyse the major research trends and results, pointing out their strengths and limits. The other two will introduce recent research projects on the topic, one about the Polish milieu, the other about the Czech.

Organizers: Kateřina Čapková (, on behalf of the Institute for Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences, and Marcin Wodziński (, on behalf of the Department of Jewish Studies, University of Wrocław.

Sponsored by:



29 October

10:00 Welcome


Hillel Kieval: Czech-Jewish and Polish-Jewish History: Possibilities for a New Paradigm

Early Modern Period


Chair: Moshe Rosman

Two introductory lectures:
Adam Kaźmierczyk: Poland-Lithuania
Rachel Greenblatt: The Bohemian Lands

Two project presentations:
Cornelia Aust, Jewish Appearances and their Perceptions in Early Modern Poland
Pavel Sládek, The Networking of Ashkenazi Rabbis, c. 1560 – c. 1620: Italy, the Bohemian Lands, and Poland

13:00 – 14:00  Lunch

Demography and Migration


Chair: Hillel Kieval

Two introductory lectures:
Shaul Stampfer: Poland-Lithuania
Michael L. Miller: The Bohemian Lands

Two project presentations:
Jurgita Verbickiené, Where Did the Jews of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Live in the Second Half of the 18th Century? The Development of a Network of Communities
Michal Frankl, Refugees, Loyalty, and a Nation-state under Construction. Jewish Refugees in the Bohemian Lands during and after the First World War

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee break

Gender and Family

16:30 – 18:30

Chair: Shaul Stampfer

Two introductory lectures:
Moshe Rosman: Poland-Lithuania
Martina Niedhammer: The Bohemian Lands

Two project presentations:
Tsippi KauffmannAn Aberration of Nature: Temerel, a Woman Hasid
Verena Kasper-Marienberg, Socio-Economic Profiles of Jewish Families in Rural Bohemia: The Kauder Family in Hluboká nad Vltavou (Frauenberg) in the 17th and 18th Century

19:00 Dinner  (and the option of a postprandial walk to Prague Castle)

30 October

Concepts of Modernity and Identity

9:00 – 11:00

Chair: Anne-Christin Saß

Two introductory lectures:
Marcin Wodziński: Poland
Ines Koeltzsch: The Bohemian Lands

Two project presentations:
Rachel Manekin, Resisting the Bohemian Model. The Galician Jewish Struggle against a Uniform Modernization Path
Louise Hecht, Christian Printers as Agents of Jewish Modernization? Jewish/Hebrew Printing Houses in Prague, Brno, and Vienna, 1780-1820

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

Postwar Period

11:30- 13:30

Chair: Gertrud Pickhan

Two introductory lectures:
Michael Meng: Poland
Kateřina Čapková: The Bohemian Lands

Two project presentations:
Agnieszka W. Wierzcholska, ‚Our People’s Motherland‘: The Jewish Social and Cultural Society (TSKŻ) in Postwar Poland from a Local Perspective
Sarah Cramsey, ‘The Most Significant Spot in Europe’ How 130,000 Jews and the Ethnic Revolution came to Náchod, Czechoslovakia, in 1946

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-15:30 Concluding discussion

16:00-18:00 Tour of the Jewish Museum in Prague (optional)

Sponsored by:





Cornelia Aust

is a researcher at the Leibniz-Institute for European History in Mainz, Germany, since April 2013. In her dissertation, entitled Commercial Cosmopolitanism. Networks of Jewish Merchants between Warsaw and Amsterdam, 1750-1820 she examines the functioning of commercial and familial networks of members of the Jewish mercantile elite as well as the intersection between economic and social power. In her new project she exemines Jewish appearances and their perceptions by Jews and non-Jews in central and east central Europe from the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century.

Sarah A. Cramsey

received her masters in Jewish Studies from Oxford University and her Ph.D. in late modern European history with a designated emphasis in Jewish Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research explores shifting notions of Jewish belonging and citizenship during and after the Second World War in Poland and Czechoslovakia. She is currently a Visiting Instructor in the History Department at UC-Berkeley.

Michal Frankl

is the Deputy Director and the Head of the Department of Jewish Studies and of the History of Antisemitism in the Jewish Museum in Prague. His research interests include modern antisemitism, refugee policy, and the Shoah. He was co-editor of Theresienstädter Gedenkbücher and is author of „Prag ist nunmehr antisemitisch“. Tschechischer Antisemitismus am Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts (2011), and, with Kateřina Čapková, Unsichere Zuflucht. Die Tschechoslowakei und ihre Flüchtlinge aus NS-Deutschland und Österreich 1933-1938 (2012).  With Jindřich Toman he edited Jan Neruda and the Jews. Texts and contexts (in Czech, 2012).

Rachel Greenblatt

is author of To Tell Their Children: Jewish Communal Memory in Early Modern Prague (Stanford University Press, 2014), soon to be released in Czech translation by Academia Press in Prague. She earned her Ph.D in Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has taught at Harvard University since completing her degree. Rachel is currently Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School and an External Residential Fellow at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute.

Louise Hecht

has been a senior lecturer in Jewish History and Israel Studies at the Kurt-and-Ursula-Schubert Center for Jewish Studies, Palacký University, Olomouc, since 2007. She received her Ph.D. from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, in 2002, and won the 2003 Pridan Prize for the best dissertation in Jewish history at the Hebrew University. From 2002 to 2004, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Leonid Nevzlin Center for Russian and Eastern European Jewry, Hebrew University, and later taught at the universities of Vienna and Klagenfurt. In 2010-11, she was a senior fellow at the IFK-International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna; in 2013, she was a Fulbright visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Verena Kasper-Marienberg

is an assistant professor in the Department of Early Modern and Modern History at the University of Graz, Austria. She studied Rhetoric and History at the University of Tübingen, and received her Ph.D. in Early Modern History and Historical Museology from the University of Graz in 2009. Her first book, about the litigation of the Frankfurt Jewish community at the emperor’s court in Vienna, won the Rosl and Paul Arnsberg Prize in Jewish Studies in 2012. Her research focuses on Jewish legal, social, economic, and political history in the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg Crown Lands.

Tsippi Kauffman

is a researcher and a lecturer in the field of Jewish Thought, specializing in Hasidic thought and literature, from the early period of Hasidism and the Ba’al Shem-Tov through Polish Hasidism and up to modern currents. She is a faculty member at the Department of Jewish Thought at Bar Ilan University. In her book In All Your Ways Know Him: The concept of God and Avodah be-Gashmiyut in the Early Stages of Hasidism (in Hebrew), based on her doctoral dissertation, Kauffman portrays an intricate portrait of early Hasidism.

Hillel J. Kieval

is the Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also serves as Chair of the Department of Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.  Kieval’s teaching and research interests lie in the social and cultural history of Jews in East Central Europe since the Enlightenment; in ethnicity, nationalism, and collective memory; and in the modern “ritual murder” trial.  He is the author of The Making of Czech Jewry (1988, and, in Czech translation 2011); Languages of Community (2000); and Science and Blood: The Strange Career of the “Ritual Murder” Trial in Modern Europe (manuscript, to be completed in 2014).

Ines Koeltzsch

is a postdoctoral researcher at the Masaryk Institute and Archive of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and, and in 2014/15, a research fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies. She is the author of Geteilte Kulturen. Eine Geschichte der tschechisch-jüdisch-deutschen Beziehungen in Prag (1918-1938), published in 2012. Her research interests include the history of the relations between Jews and non-Jews in central and eastern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Currently she is working on a project dealing with rural and small-town Jews in the Bohemian Lands and their migration to the cities after 1848.

Rachel Manekin

is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland. She specializes in the social, political, and cultural history of Galician Jewry, and has published articles on Galician Haskalah, Jewish Orthodoxy, the development of Jewish politics, and the construction of Jewish identity in Galicia. Her book Religion, Politics and the Constitutional Monarchy: The Struggle Over the Control of the Jewish Communities in Galicia is forthcoming. She is currently working on a book entitled: From Polish Jews to Austrian Citizens: The Jews of Galicia 1772-1867. The book will deal with changes in the legal status of the Jews, their communal organization and leadership, education, religion, and personal status.

Michael Meng

is Assistant Professor of History at Clemson University, South Carolina. His book, Shattered Spaces: Encountering Jewish Ruins in Postwar Germany and Poland, was published by Harvard University Press, and a volume of which he is co-editor, Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland, will be published this winter with Indiana University Press.


Michael L. Miller

is Associate Professor in the Nationalism Studies Program at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. His research focuses on the impact of nationality conflicts on the religious, cultural, and political development of Central European Jewry in the nineteenth century. His book Rabbis and Revolution: The Jews of Moravia in the Age of Emancipation was published in 2011 and will be published in Czech in 2015.  With Ury Scott, he edited Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and the Jews of East Central Europe (2014). He is currently working on a history of Hungarian Jewry from the late eighteenth century until the mid-twentieth century.

Martina Niedhammer

has been a research assistant at the Collegium Carolinum, Munich, since 2011,  and a lecturer in the international graduate programme “Religious Cultures in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe” at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the Charles-University, Prague, since 2013 .  She is author of Nur eine »Geld-Emancipation«? Loyalitäten und Lebenswelten des Prager jüdischen Großbürgertums 1800–1867  (2013).

Gertrud Pickhan

has been Professor of East-Central European History at the Free University of Berlin since 2003. Her research focuses on the historic cultural landscape of east-central Europe, which was largely shaped by its multiethnic and intercultural circumstances. Plurality and diversity and the resultant contacts and conflicts are being studied in various projects. From 1997 to 2000, she taught at the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture in Leipzig, where she also served as Deputy to the Founding Director. From 2000 to 2003, she was Professor of Polish Studies at the Technical University of Dresden.

Moshe Rosman

was born in Chicago, USA, and studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Columbia University. He has lived in Israel since 1979, where he teaches in the Jewish History department at Bar Ilan University.  Rosman specializes in the history of the Jews in the early modern period in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  His books include The Lords‘ Jews: Magnate-Jewish Relations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1990); Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba’al Shem Tov (1996), and How Jewish Is Jewish History? (2008).

Pavel Sládek

is an associate professor at the Hebrew studies program at Charles University, Prague. He specializes in the cultural history of the Jews in Early Modern Europe, especially in central-eastern Europe. Areas of particular interest include printed book and the paratexts, reading practices, and rabbinic literature. He published, in Czech, a monograph on Rashi ́s exegetical methodology as well as severalessays, in English, on the Maharal of Prague and other rabbinic figures. He was a fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies in 2013. He is a co-founder of the Prague Centre for Jewish Studies.


Shaul Stampfer

grew up in Portland, Oregon, and in 1971 came to the Hebrew University for a year – which turned out to be many more. He wrote a Ph.D. thesis under Professor Jacob Katz on the yeshivot of Lithuania as a phenomenon of modernization in a traditional society, and went on to work on demographic history of the Jews in Eastern Europe as well as on social and educational history. He also studied the story of the Khazar conversion to Judaism – which has nothing to do with all of the above. In 1989, he went to Moscow and spent two years there working in various fields of Jewish education and Judaica studies. He had gone to the USSR and returned from Russia – but this was not his doing.

Jurgita Verbickiené

is an associate professor in the Faculty of History at Vilnius University, and Director of the Centre forthe Study of the Culture and History of East European Jews. Apart from a number of articles, she has published the monograph Jews in the Society of Grand Duchy of Lithuania: Aspects of Coexistence (in Lithuanian, 2009) and is a co-editor of Synagogues in Lithuania. A Catalogue, vol. 1-2 (Vilnius, 2010, 2012) and Lithuanian Jews. Historical Study (Vilnius, 2012). Her current international project is focused on the historical demography of the Jewish community of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the late eighteenth century.


Agnieszka Wierzcholska

is currently working as a research fellow at the Institute for East-European Studies, history department, at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her main academic interest lies in producing an integrating narrative of the multi-ethnic history of Poland. Key aspects of her research are relations between Jews and Gentiles in Poland in the collective memory of the twentieth century.  Her Ph.D. project is entitled “Relations between Jews and non-Jews in Poland from a Micro-historical Perspective. The Case of Tarnów, 1918 – 1956”.

Marcin Wodziński

is Professor of Jewish History and Literature at the University of Wrocław, Poland. His special fields of interest are the regional history of the Jews in Silesia, Jewish material culture, and the social history of Jews in nineteenth-century Poland, especially history of Hasidism and Haskalah. His books include Hebrew Inscriptions in Silesia 13th-18th c. (in Polish, 1996), Bibliography on the History of Silesian Jewry II (2004), Haskalah and Hasidism in the Kingdom of Poland: A History of Conflict (2005), and Hasidism and Politics: The Kingdom of Poland, 1815-1864 (2013).

Kateřina Čapková

is a research fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History, Prague, and teaches Modern Jewish History at Charles University and NYU in Prague. She is the author of Czechs, Germans, Jews? National Identity and the Jews of Bohemia (Berghahn Books, 2012).With Michal Frankl she is the co-author of Unsichere Zuflucht, a book about Czechoslovakia and refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria (2012, in Czech 2008). She is currently working on a project about Jewish settlement in the Czechoslovak and Polish border regions after the Second World War.

The conference takes place in Villa Lanna

V Sadech 1
Prague  6
phone: +420 224 321 278


How to get there

From the airport

At the bus stop for the 119 bus, just outside the airport front doors, buy a 32-crown ticket from the yellow-orange ticket machine; it will cover for 90 minutes of travel by bus, tram, and Metro (underground) in Prague.  Take the 119 bus to the Dejvická Metro station (the final stop), then go down the stairs to the Metro, and travel to the next station, Hradčanská. Villa Lanna is a ten-minute from the Hradčanská station (see below).

From the train or the coach station

 Trains arrive at Prague Main Station (Praha Hlavní nádraží). From a yellow-orange ticket machine, buy a basic ticket for 32 crowns for 90 minutes of travel by all means of transport in Prague.

Enter the Metro directly at the train station, travel one station to Muzeum, and change onto the green line, which will take you to Hradčanská (the last stop before the Dejvice terminus). If travelling by coach, the Florenc bus station has its own Metro station: get onto the red line and change at Muzeum for the green line to Hradčanská.  Villa Lanna is a ten-minute from the Hradčanská station (see below).

The ten-minute walk from Hradčanská station to Villa Lanna

Head for the ‘Bubenečská’ exit, walk straight down Bubenečská Street. At Ronald Reagan Street, with the US Ambassador’s residence on the corner, turn right. At the end of the street, turn left into Pelléova Street. At the end of this street, you’ll see Villa Lanna.

For further tram and Metro information, including timetables and trip planning, visit the Prague Public Transport website .