Wednesday, June 29, 2022
The political upheavals of the twentieth century left lasting marks on the Jewish communities of Eastern and Central Europe. Most Jews were annihilated during the Holocaust, and those who survived and remained in the Eastern bloc, were often repressed by the succeeding Communist regimes. This was especially the case in postwar Poland, which experienced several intense periods of hostility, culminating in the March 1968 antisemitic campaign, in which approximately 15,000 of the remaining 30,000 Jews were expelled. Little research on Polish Jewry, however, directly explores the fate of those Jews who continued to live in Poland. Relying especially on JDC archival documents, this talk will explore the observance of Passover as a case study for understanding divergent processes of Jewish identity maintenance and formation in Poland during the period of late socialism (1970s-1980s) through the fall of Communism.
Dr. Jonathan Zisook is a Visiting Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, where he also serves on the faculty of Jewish Studies. He received a PhD in Sociology from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Dr. Zisook’s research has been supported by the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, and the JDC Archives. His scholarship has appeared in the Journal of Classical Sociology, Religious Studies Review, and Studies in Contemporary Jewry. He is a recipient of the 2021 Fred and Ellen Lewis / JDC Archives Fellowship. His research in the JDC Archives deals with the sociopolitical and religious history of Jewish life in Poland after 1968.