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Introduction to the Theme: Jews and Cities, between Utopia and Dystopia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2017

Eli Lederhendler*
Hebrew University
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The collective discussion embodied in the following group of essays is the outgrowth of a three-year-long symposium on Jewish and urban studies conducted at the Hebrew University's Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in the Humanities and Jewish Studies from 2009 to 2012. The synergy that animated our weekly discussions owed something to the fact that, rather than chiming in on similar notes, we partook of a wide sampling of reading and analysis. We came from different disciplines, with different agendas: scholars of literary criticism, adepts of social theory, historians, cultural analysts, an expert in religious philosophy, and a landscape architect with a critical interest in the culture and politics of spatial construction. The broad sweep of our discussions was greater than will be evident from this selection of papers, since our circle of discussants continually swelled and altered during those three years, reshuffling the range of participants and topics. However, most of those whose work is represented in this sampling were present throughout the entire three-year project.

Jews and Cities
Copyright © Association for Jewish Studies 2017 

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1. Benjamin, Walter, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed. Arendt, Hannah, trans. Zohn, Harry (London: Jonathan Cape, 1985), 254Google Scholar.

2. Lederhendler, Eli, New York Jews and the Decline of Urban Ethnicity, 1950–1970 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2001)Google Scholar.

3. Dubnow, Simon, Weltgeschichte des jüdischen Volkes: von seinen Uranfängen bis zur Gegenwart (Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1925–29)Google Scholar; translated into Hebrew as Divre yeme ’am ’olam (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1956)Google Scholar.

4. See for instance Bałaban, Majer, Historja Żydów w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1304–1868 (Kraków: Nadzieja, 1931–36)Google Scholar; Hundert, Gershon, The Jews in a Polish Private Town: The Case of Opatów in the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992)Google Scholar.