Online course to explore Jewish life in Eastern Europe


This fall, the R.I. Delve Deeper Jewish adult-education program is offering a 10-week online course, “Creativity and Resilience: Jewish Life in Eastern Europe 1550-2020,” taught by Natan M. Meir, the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University.

For many centuries, Eastern Europe was one of the great centers of Jewish civilization. The course will explore the society that Jews created in the east European borderlands, a world unto itself but also closely interlinked with the surrounding Slavic and Christian milieu.

Drawing on key documents from the world of Polish and Russian Jews, Meir will examine central phenomena, such as the shtetl; the Hasidic movement; the emergence of modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature; the rise of modern Jewish political movements, such as Zionism and Bundism; the creation of Soviet Jewry; and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.

The program will also touch on outcasts of the Jewish community, including beggars and people with disabilities, which is the subject of a recent book by Professor Meir.

Meir is a scholar of Jewish social, cultural and religious history who speaks eight languages, leads Jewish heritage tours in Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics, consults for Moscow’s Jewish Museum, and is the author of two books: “Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859-1914” and “Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939.” Meir is also the co-editor of “Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History.”

Preregistration for the course is highly recommended. The fee is $250 for the 10 classes, which will be held on Wednesday nights, 7:30 to 9:30, from Oct. 6 to Dec. 8. More course and enrollment information is available at, or by contacting Morty Miller at 407-922-9411 or  For more information about Professor Meir, visit his website,

The Delve Deeper program explores topics in greater depth than the typical synagogue adult-education program. “Creativity and Resilience: Jewish Life in Eastern Europe 1550-2020,” is jointly sponsored by Congregation Beth Sholom, Temple Beth-El, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Habonim, Temple Sinai and Temple Torat Yisrael, along with the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Submitted by Larry Katz, director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Jewish Alliance

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