The Eastern European Center (Essential Lectures in Jewish History)


A brief overview of the settlement and activity of the Jewish people in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Part of the Essential Lectures in Jewish History series by Dr. Henry Abramson.

To view the Prezi associated with this lecture, please click here.

23 thoughts on “The Eastern European Center (Essential Lectures in Jewish History)

Add yours

  1. Shabbatai Tsvi was just another blow the jews took after the mass slaughter of their people by the cosacks and the peasant uprising. After he proved to be false as Dr. Abrahmson said somewhat influenced the chasidic movement.

  2. I do somewhat understand the Jews’ sentiment of believing in Shabbetai Tzvi after the Khmelnitsky Rebellion in 1648/49. Look at where they were coming from: they had only left Germany a few centuries prior to the rebellion as a result of growing anti-Semitism and had suffered under many other rules. This horrific persecution proved too much to handle for many of them. Shabbetai Tzvi served as a savior. It seems that even religious Jews believed in his Messianic proclamation. I’m not saying I would have necessarily been one of those Jews, but I can understand that they were coming from a place of desperation and despair. My empathy with these people ends when they convert along with the false Messiah, but for those who saw his true colors and returned to their lives as G-d fearing Jews- I can certainly identify with them.

  3. It is so sad that the Jews got so caught up in the claims of Shabettai Tzvi. He really ruined so many lives and created such chaos. The fact that some Jews even converted is extremely tragic, although most remained loyal to Yiddishkeit. It makes sense that so many people turned to Chassidus, because it is a movement that is known to lift lowly spirits.
    -Yocheved Homnick

  4. It is interesting to note that the Jews migrated to Eastern Europe because of the tremendous amounts of anti-Semitism developing in Western Europe (and the promise of an easier and more simple life in Eastern Europe), only to be met by the horrific anti-Semitic events of the Khmel’nyts’ky rebellion, not long after settling down in Eastern Europe. This point only proves the known fact that the Jews were and are always hated – even if it is not apparent at first. They thought that they had created a new life, away from the horrors of Western Europe, only to, once again, see tragedy in their new homes.

  5. This lecture really reiterates the point of “V’hee She’amda;” in each generation, in every place, different enemies arise to persecute us. We can run away and seek security as much as possible, yet if Hashem wants us to feel the galus, He will have it follow us wherever we go. This is evident in the fact that the Jews fled the West primarily to escape anti-Semitism and were thereafter met with horrors in Eastern Europe. Today, we believe America to be the safe haven of the world, the Land of the Free. We must take a lesson from history and be wary of the fact that we live in exile even when Hashem acts with mercy and allows us moments of security.

  6. No matter where the Jews end up they become an essential part of the economy and country. It is very interesting to hear that there were countries that actually understood this and invited the Jews so that they could benefit from that fact.

  7. Its interesting to see how the one two punch of the chelminitski rebellion and the gazeiros tach vi tat led the Jews to search for any means of distraction. First with Shabbtei Tzvi and then with Chassidus

  8. I posted a comment and am unsure if it went through, since I don’t see it even after refreshing multiple times.

  9. So much information in so little time. I wanna learn more about this period. Can you recommend something? What’s your book called?

  10. Because the Jews had it rough they needed something or someone to turn to, which made them very susceptible to frauds like Shabbetai Tsvi. This was one of the main reasons the Baal Shem Tov started the Hasidik movement to keep the Jews from turning towards other false faiths.

  11. The fact that the Hasidic movement was somewhat accepted by the Mitnagdim in order to join forces in the their fight against Haskalah should serve a lesson nowadays for the many sects of judaism to unite in battling the threat posed against the unwinding of traditional Judaism.

  12. Again, another wonderful video! It is so true, that every generation tries to kill the Jews out, but never can succeed in doing so. Interesting to see that Poland and Ukraine was once a secure home for the Jews, unlike today where it is isolated of Jews.Jews back then really were in charge of money collecting jobs. It just shows how well Jews handle money. If we look today, all the top people (well most) are Jews.

  13. Great lecture! Interesting how when Jews are needed and are the cause of prosperity they are invited and loved, like in Egypt. However, there will always be a new king who doesn’t remember Joseph, and Jews will eventually be persecuted and kicked out.

  14. It is helpful to know the background to Shabti Tzvi and the development of Chasidus. Thank you.

  15. Great lecture as usual, thank you! It was unbeknown to me that the Shabti Tzvi movement served as a primary role of the offshoot of Chasidus. I would love to learn more, and study the reasoning’s that relate the relation between Shabti Tzvi and the Chasidic Movement.

  16. The repetition is mind boggling. Exile after exile. Hatred after hatred. How the Jews are still around is a miracle in it of itself, truly. Phenomenal lecture. I hate the fact that the Khmel’nyts’kyi rebellion hurt the Jews so much when they were really just the messenger. Plus so many of them killed! It’s no wonder people flocked to Shabbetai Tsvi. This had all the makings of a final bloodshed, to be followed by redemption.

  17. This is a very informative lecture. It is necessary to point out one of the major disputes between the Chasidic movement and their critics. Chasidus teaches that Jews can serve God in materialistic ways. Based on the idea of Bchol Druchachu Duahu. Which really means that you should serve God wherever you are. Chasidus, however, learned from this verse that one could actually serve God while doing many of his daily chores. Therefore, Chasidim gathered to Farbreng (chat) and Tish (Sabbath meals). The Mitnagdim (critics) regarded this concept as foreign to Jewish law, on the bases of the Halacha of Bitul Torah (not to waste time not studying Torah).

  18. I wish that there were more definitions of the terms used. I’ve tried to look them up but I come away confused. One example is Chassidus. I was born in 1946 in Germany, the youngest son of German refugees from the Ukraine. I’ve had little contact with Jewish history and am trying to learn a bit in my…senior years.

    1. Chassidus is a complex term. At the risk of oversimplification, “chassidus” refers to a Jewish ethical-philosophical approach that favors popularization of Kabbalah. It began in the 18th century and continues unabated today in several schools.

  19. Wonderful history lesson with such dense information and good analyzes. I would wish to have this in other languages like Polish and German as well.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: