Book project (in progress): Jewish Heritage, Polish Homeland: Jewish Collection and Display in Poland, 1890-1941
My manuscript-in-progress considers the role that Jewish community museums and related documentation projects played in Polish lands between the 1890s and 1941. I examine the founding of Jewish community museums in Lwów and in Warsaw, asking what their founders envisioned a museum would do for the Jewish communities in those cities. I trace the development of these museums from their pre-WWI origins through the outbreak of WWII, linking Jewish community activity to broader Polish politics. I also investigate efforts to document the Jewish communities of Poland–their customs, political and religious beliefs, and local histories.
The Lwów Girls’ Trade School (in progress)
This study interrogates the relationship of physical production and women’s labor to cultural production, the relationship of the work of art to its audience and the process of the circulation of cultural works and values. It investigates the ideological underpinnings—feminist and Jewish—behind the Society of Handicraft Workshops for Jewish Girls, and the aims of its founder, Cecylja Klaftenowa. This Society, and its resultant gymnasium, served multiple needs. It was a space of social welfare, providing a means to a living for young women who might not otherwise attain self-sufficiency or indeed, attain any means whatsoever. It was also a space of productive labor, answering to moral claims about the value of (paid) work and the need for the “productivization” of the Jews. Furthermore, the school provided for the education of young women, a political aim that was at times masked by the urgent need for financial amelioration. Finally, it was a space, by multiple accounts, infused with Judaism and a “Jewish spirit.” It is thus a rich text that serves to illuminate an aspect of cultural production in Lwów as well as to uncover aspects of the life of its founder and driving force.
I spent the summer of 2019 in Warsaw’s archives as a European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellow at the Jewish Historical Institute.
Polish Jewish Refugees in Romania (in progress)
In 1939, a group of Jews from Poland traveled to Romania, not to one of Romania’s port cities to depart for Palestine, but as refugees. They remained in Romania through the country’s entry into the war, as Romania allied itself with Nazi Germany in November 1940, and through Romania’s withdrawal from the Axis Powers and switching sides to an alliance with the Allies in 1944. Very little documentation of this small refugee community remains, but what does paints a picture of varying efforts on the part of the organized Romanian Jewish community to both integrate the refugees into the Romanian Jewish framework, and to keep the refugees at arms’ length.