The Jews of the Danube (Fall 2018 Lecture Series)

The Jews of the Danube

Fall 2018 Lecture Series

From its headwaters in Germany’s Black Forest to its final destination in the Black Sea, the Danube River flows through ten countries and over ten centuries of Jewish history. Great cities like Vienna and Budapest punctuate its course through East-Central Europe, the cradle of much of Ashkenazic civilization. This fall we will explore the history of the great Jews and Jewish communities of the region, celebrating the magnificent cultural achievements of Danubian Jewry, commemorating its tragic destruction in the twentieth century—and examining signs of incipient rebirth as the irrepressible, exuberant spirit of Jewish creativity expresses itself along the shoreline in the 21st century.

Following our remarkable exploration of the Douro River, looking for ethnographic remnants of Crypto-Jewish culture in Spain and Portugal, our Fall 2018 excursion into Jewish history will begin with a voyage along the Danube itself with Kosher Riverboat Cruises. Led by Sayeret Matkal veteran David Lawrence and fed by Master Kosher Chef Malcolm Green, we will team with Prague Jewish historian David Kraus to learn more about the unique experience of Hapsburg Jewry. I am honored in particular to join Rabbis Marvin Hier, Abraham Cooper and Meyer May of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in a commemoration of the life and work of Simon Wiesenthal, culminating in a visit to Mauthausen and Linz.

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 9.40.52 AM

Returning to the Mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College at the end of October, we plan to continue the discussion in our regular Monday Night Jewish History @ J series, incorporating the intensity and immediacy of local research into the larger perspective of Danubian Jewish History.

The haunting memorial to the Jews of Budapest murdered in the Holocaust by drowning in the Danube River. Conceived by Can Togay and created by Gyula Pauer (2005).

Schedule of Lectures

Part One: Europe

1. The Saga of Danubian Jewry (scheduled for Budapest, Hungary)

danube map

2. “Every Sofa Covered in Plastic:” The Glory of Hungarian Jewry (scheduled for Budapest, Hungary)

Budapest on the Danube

3. What is New, is Forbidden:” Bratislava Jewry Responds to Modernity (scheduled for Bratislava, Slovakia)

Historic Bratislava (a.k.a. Pressburg)

4. Vienna and the Creation of a Modern Jewish Identity (scheduled for Vienna, Austria)

From Emil Mayer’s photographs of Jewish Vienna.

5. A Vanished World: Shtetl Culture in the Wachau Valley (scheduled for Wachau Valley, Austria)

The gorgeous Wachau valley.

6. Social Change in Danubian Responsa Literature (scheduled for Wachau Valley, Austria)


7. The Eternity of Israel is Not a Lie:” Danubian Jewry, the Holocaust, and the 21st Century (Mauthausen & Linz, Austria)

Lecture Sponsored by

Christopher and Ann Marie Bray

in honor of (dedicated to) Eretz Israel

Part Two: Brooklyn

All lectures scheduled for Monday nights, beginning promptly at 7:00 pm in the Main Auditorium of the Mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College, 1602 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY 11230. Lectures are free and open to the public; we encourage support of our brilliant students by offering sponsorships ($500) online at the Friends of Jewish History Scholarship Fund.

Monday, November 5


“Light is Sown:” Rabbi Isaac Ben Moses (the “Or Zarua”) and the Medieval origins of Danubian Jewry

Monday, November 12


“What is New, is Forbidden:” Rabbi Moses Sofer (the “Chatam Sofer”) and the Challenges of Modernity

Monday, November 19


The Other Zionist: Max Nordau and the Vision of a Modern Israel

Monday, November 26


The Untold History of Bertha Pappenheim and the Modernization of Social Activism

For more information write or call (718) 535-9333. No hard questions, please.

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