Polish Jewish Culture Beyond the Capital: Centering the Periphery
Halina Golderg and Nancy Sinkoff (eds.) with Natalia Aleksiun
Published: Rutgers University Press, 2023
Polish Jewish Culture beyond the Capital: Centering the Periphery is a path-breaking exploration of the diversity and vitality of urban Jewish identity and culture in Polish lands from the second half of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of the Second World War (1899–1939). In this multidisciplinary essay collection, a cohort of international scholars provides an integrated history of the arts and humanities in Poland by illuminating the complex roles Jews in urban centers other than Warsaw played in the creation of Polish and Polish Jewish culture.
Each essay presents readers with the extraordinary production and consumption of culture by Polish Jews in literature, film, cabaret, theater, the visual arts, architecture, and music. They show how this process was defined by a reciprocal cultural exchange that flourished between cities at the periphery—from Lwów and Wilno to Kraków and Łódź—and international centers like Warsaw, thereby illuminating the place of Polish Jews within urban European cultures.
Companion website (https://polishjewishmusic.iu.edu)
From That Place and Time, 1938-1947: A Memoir; "Yidishkayt and the Making of Lucy S. Dawidowicz"
Lucy S. Dawidowicz, with introduction by Nancy Sinkoff
Published: Rutgers University Press, 2008
From that Place and Time is the memoir of Lucy S. Dawidowicz, an American-Jewish historian who set out to study Yiddish language and Jewish history at YIVO, the Jewish Scientific Institute in Vilna, Poland, in 1938. Escaping Poland only days before the Nazi onslaught, she worked in the New York YIVO during the war, and returned to Europe from 1946 to 1947 to aid Jewish displaced persons in Munich and Belsen with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Dawidowicz's memoir not only describes her pre-war year in Jewish Eastern Europe, but also treats the ghostly post-war period, and her role in salvaging what remained of Vilna's scorched Jewish archives and libraries.
Nancy Sinkoff's new introduction explores the historical forces, particularly the dynamic world of secular Yiddish culture, which shaped Dawidowicz's decision to journey to Poland and her reassessment of those forces in the last years of her life.
From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History
Published: Wayne State University Press, 2020
From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History is the first comprehensive biography of Dawidowicz (1915–1990), a pioneer historian in the field that is now called Holocaust studies. Dawidowicz was a household name in the postwar years, not only because of her scholarship but also due to her political views. Dawidowicz, like many other New York intellectuals, was a youthful communist, became an FDR democrat midcentury, and later championed neoconservatism. Nancy Sinkoff argues that Dawidowicz’s rightward shift emerged out of living in prewar Poland, watching the Holocaust unfold from New York City, and working with displaced persons in postwar Germany. Based on over forty-five archival collections, From Left to Right chronicles Dawidowicz’s life as a window into the major events and issues of twentieth-century Jewish life.
From Left to Right is structured in four parts. Part 1 tells the story of Dawidowicz’s childhood, adolescence, and college years when she was an immigrant daughter living in New York City. Part 2 narrates Dawidowicz’s formative European years in Poland, New York City (when she was enclosed in the European-like world of the New York YIVO), and Germany. Part 3 tells how Dawidowicz became an American while Polish Jewish civilization was still inscribed in her heart and also explores when and how Dawidowicz became the voice of East European Jewry for the American Jewish public. Part 4 exposes the fissure between Dawidowicz’s European-inflected diaspora nationalist modern Jewish identity and the shifting definition of American liberalism from the late 1960s forward, which also saw the emergence of neoconservatism. The book includes an interpretation of her memoir From that Place and Time, as well as an appendix of thirty-one previously unpublished letters that illustrate the broad reach of her work and person.
Dawidowicz’s right-wing politics, sex, and unabashed commitment to Jewish particularism in an East European Jewish key have resulted in scholarly neglect. Therefore, this book is strongly recommended for scholars and general readers interested in Jewish and women’s studies.
Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands
Published: Brown Judaic Studies, 2004, 1st ed. and 2020, 2nd ed.
In Out of the Shtetl: Making Jews Modern in the Polish Borderlands, Nancy Sinkoff examines some of the thinkers, particularly Mendel Lefin and Joseph Perl, who as part of the Jewish Enlightenment movement (Haskalah) of the nineteenth century attempted to articulate a vision and plan for how the Jews of Eastern Europe could become modern while remaining Jews. The book contains a new preface by the author.
Sara Levy's World: Judaism, Gender, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin
Rebecca Cypess and Nancy Sinkoff
Published: Boydell and Brewer, University of Rochester Press, 2018
A rich interdisciplinary exploration of the world of Sara Levy, a Jewish salonnière and skilled performing musician in late eighteenth-century Berlin, and her impact on the Bach revival, German-Jewish life, and Enlightenment culture.
Sara Levy née Itzig (1761-1854), a salonnière, skilled performing musician, and active participant in enlightened Prussian Jewish society, played a powerful role in shaping the dynamic cultural world of late eighteenth- and earlynineteenth-century Berlin. A patron and collector of music, she studied harpsichord with Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (1710-84) and commissioned musical compositions from both Friedemann and his brother Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-88). Archival evidence demonstrates Levy's position as an essential link in the transmission of the music of their father, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), and as a catalyst for the "Bach revival" of the early nineteenth century, which was led by her great-nephew Felix Mendelssohn.
Sara Levy's World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin represents the first scholarly exploration of the cultural, political, and aesthetic contexts that shaped Levy's world. Bringing together leading scholars from the fields of musicology, Jewish Studies, history, literary studies, gender studies, and philosophy, this volume presents cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research on the numerous mutually reinforcing aspects of Levy's life and work.