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.

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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Jews on the Frontier with Shari Rabin

Shari Rabin joins us for a wide-ranging discussion about her exciting new book, Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth Century America. We discuss why nineteenth-century American Jewish history is important, the debates over the distinctiveness of America and Jewish history here, the transformation of Jewish religious life in America, and the question of assimilation and what the history of American Jewish life has to tell us about our own time of DIY Judaism and post-denominationalism.

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Why Jewish History Matters

Introducing Jewish History Matters, a podcast dedicated to exploring how the newest research and enduring issues of Jewish studies have something to offer to our understanding of the world at large. It presents the argument that in order to understand history and the human experience broadly speaking, we need to understand the Jews. In this podcast, we’ll be exploring how and why this history matters and what we can learn from it in broad terms.

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