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Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands
BJS 336
Publication Date
June 2008


140336COut of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands explores the cultural and intellectual history of the encounter of Polish Jews with the West, the European Enlightenment, and the Jewish Enlightenment (the Haskalah) in Berlin in the eighteenth century. It does so through a study of the lives of Mendel Lefin of Satanów (1749-1826) and his most eminent disciple, Joseph Perl (1773-1839), two exemplary representatives of eighteenth-century enlightened Polish Jewry. Their formulation of the moderate Jewish Enlightenment had a profound influence on its development in both Austrian Galicia and Russia in the nineteenth century. By articulating a response to the most influential intellectual currents of their day specific to the Polish-Jewish community, Lefin and Perl gave voice to the shaping of the modern East European Jew. The publication of this volume was supported in part by a grant from the Koret Foundation.

Nancy Sinkoff is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers University. She graduated from Harvard-Radcliffe College and holds master's degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She was a Mellon Fellow and a recipient of an II-E Fulbright among many other fellowships and awards. Before coming to Rutgers, she was a Dorot Fellow in the Skirball Department of Jewish Studies at New York University.