Summer Limmud: Jewish Life in the Baltics

Tuesdays, July 21 and 28, August 4, 11, and 18 from 7:30 – 9:00 PM

baltic trip interest meetingJoin us this summer as we explore the rich history of Jewish life in Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus with Dr. Christine Beresniova, Program Manager, Conference for International Holocaust Education, Levine Institute for Holocaust Education, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Our five lecture series will discuss the rich history and culture of Jewish life past and present in this region — where many of us have deep family roots. Each lecture will be preceded by a brief teaching by one of our clergy.


We will learn about the history of Eastern Europe and Russia, including the laws that governed Jewish residency. Topics will include: Jewish migration, the development of “shtetl life,” the creation of the Pale of Settlement, and laws related to owning land and property. We will study the external factors that influenced the daily life of Eastern European Jewish communities throughout history and how Jewish life adapted to different situations. We will learn about the diversity of Jewish political thought and views in the early 20th century regarding local politics, emigration and Zionism.


We will explore the relationships between the dominant ethnic populations and their Jewish neighbors, and how residency in cities and villages differed. The lectures will explore Ashkenazic Jewish culture including rituals, education, and how individuals found meaning during difficult circumstances. We will examine regional developments in practices and food, and explore the history of Vilna as an intellectual capital for Jewish life in Eastern Europe.

The Holocaust and the Aftermath

We will conclude the series by studying the preconditions for the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. We will focus on the varying community responses to the Nazi invasion, and how Jewish communities in Eastern Europe experienced the Holocaust differently than Western European communities. We will cover the politics associated with the post-Soviet collapse and how commemoration, education, and remembrance evolved.

No RSVP necessary; all are welcome.

Materials that will be used in the sessions:


Jewish Life in The Baltic States and Belarus v2

Summer Limmud Baltic Book List

Valone, TF. Rescued From Oblivion

Kaplan, Nomadic Chutzpah_Yiddish Theatre and the Vilna Troupe

Bartov, O. EE as site of geno

Dawidowicz, L. Death and Life in EEuropean Ghettos

Dynner, G. A Jewish Drunk is Hard to Find

Etkind Hard and Soft Memory in Germ and Russia

Gay, R. Re-Inventing the Shtetl

Himka Obstacles to Integration

Ettinger, S. The Internal Struggle E European Jews

Mattaus, J. Controlled Escalation_ Himmler’s men

Pinchuk, BC, The East European Shtetl

Power, To Suffer by Comparison

Rein, L. Local Collaboration in Belarus

Rudling, PA. The Khatyn Massacre

Sorkin, D. Beyond the East-West Divide in Politics