Emanuel Ringelblum: Heroic Scholar of the Warsaw Ghetto

EmanuelRingelblum_1900-1944

An examination of the life and work of Emanuel Ringelblum (1900-1944), the heroic Polish scholar who organized the underground Oneg Shabbat society in the Warsaw Ghetto. Ringelblum recognized the extreme and unprecedented nature of the Nazi onslaught early in the war, and brought together a group of highly dedicated volunteers who recorded every aspect of Jewish life in the ghetto, including a functioning underground medical school, theaters, newspapers and the like. Betrayed to the Germans, he died a martyr’s death, but not before he buried the Oneg Shabbat archives in milk cans. They were unearthed after the war, and constitute a major source for the study of the Holocaust.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/eqy5tJWraRE]

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Solomon Mikhoels: Jews and Jewish Art in the USSR

Part I:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7OQVLbziE0]

Part II:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dcy2u6EkzI]

Part III:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7ZX9oI2Szw]

Solomon Mikhoels (1890-1948) was one of the most prominent actors and directors in early Soviet Russia. His career coincides with the brief flourishing of Yiddish culture under the policy of korenizatsiia, or “indiginization,” when the Communist authorities sought to develop folk culture as a means of developing loyalty to the new regime and its ideology. Performing in Shakespeare and Sholom Aleichem with equal grace, Mikhoels was a hero to Jews throughout the Soviet Union until Stalin brought the liberal policy to an abrupt end.

Shimon Dubnow: The Politics of Jewish Identity in the Modern World

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4g4EV77WTg]

Shimon Dubnow (1860-1941), a noted historian and activist whose theories of Jewish survival in the diaspora were extremely influential in the shaping Jewish identity in the modern world, from the future of Russian Jewry to the establishment of the modern Federation movement in the United States.  Dubnow’s scholarship was inextricably intertwined with the effort to establish equal rights for Jews in the Tsarist Empire during a period of phenomenal change. Martyred at the hands of the Nazis, his last words were “shrayb–un farshrayb” (write..and record), a Yiddish phrase that has motivated generations of Jewish historians.

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Moses Mendelssohn and the Haskalah Movement

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoFSV-Nx5Kc]

Moses Mendelssohn was a hugely influential thinker in 18th-century Germany.  An unusually gifted intellect, he became the primary spokesperson for the emancipation of Jews in the 18th century, and his cause was championed by many non-Jewish liberals of the era. Heralded as the founder of the Reform movement even though Mendelssohn himself maintained an observant lifestyle, his activity spawned a wholesale abandonment of traditional Judaism. Within a century of his death, his strategy of acculturation to the modern era was widely accepted by most Jewish thinkers in western Europe, but not a single one of Mendelssohn’s descendants remained Jewish.

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Nathan of Hanover and the Ukrainian Revolution of 1648-1649

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjfIKWlbGTc]

Nathan of Hanover is best known for his moving chronicle of the Khmel’nyts’kyi (Chmielnicki) Rebellion. Entitled Yeven Metsulah (“The Abyss of Despair”), it records with remarkable fairness the social, political, economic and religious background of the mid-17th century Ukrainian movement against the Poles, along with the horrible pogroms perpetrated in the context of that violent era. His analysis of the overall demographic impact of the attacks has been challenged by modern scholarship, but Hanover’s powerful treatment of the martyrdom of Ukrainian Jewry made a powerful impact on Jewish memory for centuries.

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