Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
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Memorial Foundation Board Briefings - Recent News December 2001

December 24, 2001


In the late 1980's we published a large and impressive volume of all publications supported by the Memorial Foundation. The list exceeded 3,000 titles in more than 30 languages. Since that time, we have assisted in the publication of approximately 1,000 more titles.

Some board members have requested that we apprise them periodically of the more recent publications we have supported. I am enclosing for your perusal and review a selected list of publications received at the Foundation during the academic year 2000-2001 that have resulted from our doctoral, fellowship, and institutional grants. The volumes cover a great range and variety of subjects dealing with Jewish culture in the broadest sense of the word and make important contributions to Jewish scholarship.


The History of Polish Jewry

The comprehensive history of Polish Jewry that the Foundation initiated several years ago has now been completed with the publication of the second volume of "The Broken Chain: Polish Jewry Throughout the Ages". A special session at the most recent quadrennial Congress of the World Union of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem in August 2001, was devoted to this book.

The golden age of world Jewry is often identified with Spanish Jewry, but a strong historical case can be made that another, no less golden age of enormous Jewish creativity and learning took place during the epoch of Polish Jewry. That colossal Jewish civilization in Poland is gone now, almost completely obliterated. The two-volume history of Polish Jewry now completed is intended as a monument, not in stone, but in scholarship to that decimated community.

Beside our historical debt to that civilization, we at the Foundation had another concern. The western Diaspora is very substantially derived from Polish-Jewish immigrants, especially the American Jewish community to whom Polish Jewish immigrants flocked in the early part of this century. But the third and fourth generation of their grandchildren and great grandchildren, studying in American schools and universities today, know more about the history of the American Indians than their own historical antecedents. We wanted to make their history accessible to them as well. The next step is to publish these volumes in English and Polish editions to make the history of the colossal Jewish civilization in Poland available to the next generation of Jews and non-Jews around the world.

The Memorial Foundation is deeply grateful to the two co-editors, Professors Israel Gutman and Israel Bartal, who shepherded this complex project to fruition together with Zvi Yekutiel, the executive of the Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History.

This project complements related projects we have initiated or supported in the past on the History of Spanish Jewry, The Sephardic Legacy, and Hispania Judaica, edited by Prof. Haim Beinart, and Italia Judaica, edited by Professor Shlomo Simonsohn.


Bereshit, with Commentary (in Polish)

This pioneering volume, the first in the planned publication of the entire Pentateuch in Polish is intended for both the Jews and non-Jews in Poland, especially the generation of young Jews who are now returning to Jewish life there.

The volume, published jointly by the Lauder and the Memorial Foundations, is an important contribution to the revival of Jewish life in Poland. The volume was edited and translated by Rabbi Sacha Pecaric, who together with his wife received Foundation support during their studies in the United States. Rabbi Pecaric is currently serving as the rabbi in Cracow and his wife is involved in Jewish educational projects there.

Immediately after its publication, I received an e-mail from Monica Krawczyk, a Nahum Goldmann Fellowship alumnus from Warsaw, who advised me that she is part of the study group studying the Bible using this text. Incidentally, the study group in Warsaw is being led by Agnieszka Ziatek, who received a Foundation community service scholarship grant for study in Israel and is now engaged in educational activity in Poland.

I would also like to report that the Hertz Chumash in Russian in five volumes, initiated and supported by the Foundation several years ago, has recently been republished this year in one volume by Gesharim and is being widely distributed in the CIS. It is one of the most successful and important of the more than 650 volumes on Jewish culture in Russian that the Foundation has supported.


The Jewish People in the 20th Century
by Mordechai Naor

This popular illustrated history of Jews in the 20th century, commissioned by the Memorial Foundation, was also published by the Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History in Jerusalem. The book consists of ten sections, each devoted to one of the ten decades of the most tumultuous century of Jewish History.

Among the internationally recognized scholars who have contributed to this volume are Professor Yehuda Reinhartz, President, Brandeis University; Professor Ruth Wisse, Harvard University; Professor Israel Gutman, Yad Vashem; and our own acting President, Professor Anita Shapira of Tel Aviv University.

As you recollect, the Foundation organized an Academic Convocation in conjunction with this book dealing with the History of the Jewish People in the 20th Century from somewhat different perspectives. The papers presented at that Convocation can still be heard on the Memorial Foundation's home page at


Jewish Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia
by ChaeRan Freeze

Published by Brandeis University Press, this volume by Professor ChaeRan Freeze, a young distinguished scholar of Korean background, who received both doctoral scholarships and the prestigious Ephraim Urbach Post Doctoral Fellowship from the Foundation, supporting her research in this area, explores the impact of dramatic social and institutional changes on marriage and divorce among Jews in nineteenth-century Russia. The book was a 2000 recipient of the Koret book publication award.


At the Mercy of Strangers - The Rescue of Jewish Children with Assumed Identities in Poland
by Nahum Bogner

This volume is the first in a series of studies dealing with the universe of the Jewish child during the Holocaust, an area that has regrettably received scant research attention, although more than one million Jewish children were annihilated in the Shoah. This project, initiated by the Memorial Foundation and in conjunction with Yad Vashem, is also receiving support from the Claims Conference.


The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life (Volumes I, II, and III)

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life, Before and During the Holocaust, published by the New York University Press, is based on the monumental series of the Pinkasei Hakehillot, which the Foundation initiated at Yad Vashem in the late 1960's and which documents the history of the Jewish communities that were destroyed by the Nazis. It consists to date of nineteen published volumes. The original volumes were published in Hebrew and we have over the years pressed for summary volume(s) in English to make this valuable work available to the Diaspora.

We salute Yad Vashem for this impressive contribution to the literature of the Holocaust.


Jews In A Changing World (Volume III)
Reuven Ferber, editor

This volume, the third in the series, was published following the most recent symposium on this subject held in Riga, organized by the Latvian Academy of Sciences, and the Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Latvia, which the Foundation organized.

The meetings, aimed at reaching the Jewish cultural elite in Latvia, the other Baltic States and adjacent republics of the former Soviet Union, have become a major cultural event there and have had a strong impact on Jews in the Baltic States.

Warm regards.
Sincerely yours,

Dr. Jerry Hochbaum
Executive Vice President