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.

Cafes and Modern Jewish Culture with Shachar Pinsker

Shachar Pinsker discusses his book A Rich Brew: How Cafes Created Modern Jewish Culture and the ways in which cafes provide a window into understanding modern Jewish culture and modernity: What it means for cafes to be sites of the production of Jewish culture, how cafes sold not just coffee but also a concept of modernity, and the transformation of cafes and Jewish culture.

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A New History of Hasidism with David Biale

David Biale discusses Hasidism: A New History, an important and invaluable history of Hasidism from its origins in the 18th century until the present. We discuss Hasidism and why it matters: Why it was so significant in Europe before the Holocaust and why it remains relevant, what’s at stake in declaring it a “modern” movement, and how and why Hasidism helps us understand the currents of modern Jewish history and the modern world at large.

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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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Vladimir Jabotinsky and Right-Wing Zionism with Daniel Kupfert Heller

Daniel Heller joins us to discuss his book Jabotinsky’s Children: Polish Jews and the Rise of Right-Wing Zionism and the big issues it brings up: The rise of the Revisionist Zionist movement in interwar Europe and its relationship with right-wing politics and fascism; Jabotinsky and his ideological and political legacy, particularly in Israel; the importance of youth and youth movements in the history of Zionism and politics broadly speaking; the history of fascism and how it relates to the present; and the implications of studying the history of politics for understanding our own world.

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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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How Benjamin Netanyahu Enables Antisemitism with Joshua Shanes

Joshua Shanes joins us to discuss his article, published in the Washington Post in February 2018, “How Benjamin Netanyahu Enables Antisemitism.” We talk about antisemitism today, why it’s particularly important right now, the relationship between antisemitism, Zionism, and Jewish politics, and also the role historians have to play in speaking about this and other issues.

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