Welcome to Jewish History Matters

Jewish History Matters features interviews and in-depth discussion of new research and enduring debates about Jewish history and culture and why it matters. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or browse and listen to our latest episodes.

The Jewish Bible as a Material Object with David Stern

David Stern joins the podcast to discuss his book The Jewish Bible: A Material History and the meaning of the history of the Jewish Bible as a material object: How the Bible has served as a symbol, how its form has stood in for struggles over ownership of the Bible, what this all tells us about the relationship between Jews and the world in which they lived, and ultimately what the future of digitization holds in store for the Bible.

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Jewish Community Studies with Matthew Boxer

Matthew Boxer joins us to talk about contemporary American Jewish communities, why gathering population data matters, what we can learn from these kinds of studies, and how examining a range of communities from across the U.S. helps us to understand the varieties of American Jewish life between smaller and larger communities. We discuss how community studies are put to practical use, how it relates to trends in Big Data and quantification, and how all this contributes to our broad understanding of American Jewry and the American Jewish experience.

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Jewish Migration with Mia Spiro and Scott Ury

Mia Spiro and Scott Ury join us to discuss a new issue of East European Jewish Affairs dedicated to the topic of Jewish migration which they edited alongside Semion Goldin. In this episode, we talk about why studying the history of Jewish migration matters, how new approaches might help revise some commonly-held beliefs about modern Jewish life and culture, perhaps unsettling ideas about the role of antisemitism and crisis as leading factors in Jewish history. And further, we’ll talk about how the cases of Jewish migration, especially those highlighted in this journal issue, help to illuminate the broader history of migration and what it tells us about the present.

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Why 1938 Matters Today with Frank Mecklenburg

Frank Mecklenburg joins us to talk about the Leo Baeck Institute’s 1938Projekt (1938 Project), an exciting initiative to track the experience of German Jews in 1938 on a day-by-day basis. We talk about the project and its objectives, what kind of history it tells us about the transformations over the course of 1938, and about the importance of learning from the past: How we can comprehend daily life under the Nazi regime, how such “normalcy” illustrates how authoritarian regimes consolidate their power and marginalize elements of the population, and how we can identify parallels between the past and today’s international crises of refugees and discrimination against minorities and immigrants. The LBI’s 1938Projekt, by posting one item each day that relates to what happened on the exact day eighty years ago, illustrates the past and also presents a demand for us to think about what’s happening today too.

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Houston Jewish History Archive with Joshua Furman

Joshua Furman joins us to discuss the Houston Jewish History Archive and how this effort to preserve the history of Houston’s Jewish community after Hurricane Harvey brings together the strands of American Jewish history and the challenges posed by human-caused climate change, how we try to preserve the past against the tide of a changing world and adapt in order to create sustainable lives and communities.

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Jewish Origins with Steven Weitzman

Steven Weitzman joins us to talk about his book The Origin of the Jews: The Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age, and what the question of Jewish origins has to tell us about a range of issues including nationalism, the relationship between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, and the ways the study of the past has often been put to use for political or ideological purposes.

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