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Gershon Bacon

Transitional Generation: On the Trajectories of Polish Jewish Studies over the Past Half Century

This paper surveys some of the major turning points, both intellectual and historical, in the development of Polish Jewish studies over the past five decades. Based partly on autobiographical reflections, the talk will focus on what the author considers the transitional generation between interwar Polish Jewish historians and their immediate students, and present-day participants in the multi-disciplinary and truly international conversation between major centers of Polish Jewish studies in North America, Western Europe, Israel, and in Poland itself.

Gershon Bacon is associate professor of Jewish history at Bar-Ilan University, where he holds the Marcell and Maria Roth Chair for the History and Culture of Polish Jewry. He is an expert in the history of East European Jewry, specializing in the social, political, and religious history of Polish Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries. His numerous publications have appeared in leading academic journals in the United States, Europe, and Israel. Among his best known works are The Politics of Tradition: Agudat Yisrael in Poland 1916-1939 (1996) and The Jews in Poland and Russia: Bibliographical Essays (1984). He was one of the editors of Jews in Eastern Europe: the Yivo Encyclopedia (2008). He is currently completing the book The Jews of Modern Poland, to be published by the University of California Press. Professor Bacon is the editor-in-chief of the journal Gal-Ed: On the History and Culture of Polish Jewry.