Women and the Writing of Polish Jewish History Before the Holocaust

Women and the Writing of Polish Jewish History Before the Holocaust

Prof. Natalia Aleksiun-Madrzak

November 18, 2020 at 7:00 PM

ZOOM registration required (after registration, an event link will be sent)

ABOUT THE LECTURE: born in 1912 in Łódź, Sara Ajzensztejn belonged to a cohort of Polish Jewish women who enrolled at Polish universities to study the history of their own community: Polish Jewry. She wrote her dissertation on “Jewish Women in Poland in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” arguing for the importance of including Jewish women’s experience when studying the past. Ajzensztejn and other young Jewish women in the Second Polish Republic were unable to find academic appointments. They worked as teachers, pursuing their research in Polish archives, and seeking to publish it in scholarly journals and the popular Jewish press. Their work was part of a larger project of inscribing Polish Jewish history into Polish history and arguing that Polish Jews were at home in Poland. This lecture will trace the social and cultural backgrounds of Ajzensztejn and other Polish Jewish female historians and examine their scholarly contribution as Jewish women, public intellectuals, and minority historians.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Natalia Aleksiun is the Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Graduate School of Touro College. She studied Polish and Jewish history at Warsaw University, the Graduate School of Social Studies in Warsaw and Hebrew University in Jerusalem and New York University. She received her doctorate from Warsaw University in 2001. Her dissertation won the Polish Prime Minister’s Award for doctoral students and appeared in print as Where to? The Zionist Movement in Poland, 1944-1950 (in Polish) in 2002. In 2010, she received her second PhD from New York University based on her dissertation entitled: “Ammunition in the Struggle for National Rights: Jewish Historians in Poland between the Two World Wars”. She was a co-editor of the twentieth volume of Polin, devoted to the memory of the Holocaust. She published in Yad Vashem Studies, Polish Review, Dapim, East European Jewish Affairs, Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Polin, Gal Ed, East European Societies and Politics and German History. Together with Brian Horowitz she is editing a volume 29 of Polin titled Writing Jewish History. She is currently working on a book about the so-called cadaver affair at European Universities in the 1920s and 1930s and on a project dealing with daily lives of Jews in hiding in Galicia during the Holocaust.