Dark Times, Dire Decisions: Jews and Communism

Dark Times, Dire Decisions: Jews and Communism

Dark Times, Dire Decisions: Jews and Communism

Dark Times, Dire Decisions: Jews and Communism

Synopsis

The newest volume of the annual Studies in Contemporary Jewry series features essays on the varied and often controversial ways Communism and Jewish history interacted during the 20th century. The volume's contents examine the relationship between Jews and the Communist movement in Poland, Russia, America, Britain, France, the Islamic world, and Germany.

Excerpt

The publication of volume XX naturally constitutes something of a landmark in the history of Studies in Contemporary Jewry. In the preface to the first volume, I wrote that "it behooves a new periodic publication to view itself with much hope, but with a modesty even greater. The success of such ventures has to be measured in terms of decades rather than single issues." Now 20 years on (the first volume appeared in 1984), we are, of course, more than pleased that the annual has been able to establish itself as a significant publication within the field of modern and contemporary Jewish studies. There have been considerable changes in that field since we first discussed what shape to give to Studies. More journals have been launched (or revived) since then; and book reviewing, which was then vastly underrepresented, has likewise much increased. In consequence, over the years, the collection of articles—the symposium or "book within a book"—has emerged as the dominant section within the annual. (We are attaching a list of the varied topics that we have covered in the first 20 volumes in addition to the next three, currently in progress.) Nonetheless, we continue to see in the book reviews and free-floating articles an important part of the project.

Shortly after we decided that volume XX would be devoted to the theme of Communism and the Jews, we learned that a conference was to be held at the Simon-Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University in November 2001 on the same theme ("Jewish Questions—Communist Answers? On Secularization, Ethnicity, and Secondary Conversions"). Rather than enter into competition, we suggested to Professor Dan Diner, the head of the Simon-Dubnow Institute—and also a professor of history at the Hebrew University—that we pool our resources. Professor Diner and I thus became joint editors of the symposium, with what, we hope, are good results. As a joint enterprise, it turned out to be productive and remarkably frictionless.

Every volume of Studies in Contemporary Jewry is the product of close cooperation among the four editors; I am most grateful for all the advice and encouragement provided by Eli Lederhendler, Peter Y. Medding, and Ezra Mendelsohn. The Institute of Contemporary Jewry, headed over the last years by Professor Gideon Shimoni, has continued to provide Studies with all possible backing. We also wish to thank the Samuel and Althea Stroum Foundation, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and the Federman Fund for their continued support. Finally, as always, it gives me special pleasure to thank the managing editors, Laurie Fialkoff and . . .

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