Exploring Expressions of Orthodox Judaism


It was standing room only in Easton Hall for the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies' lively November 29 conference “Formations of Orthodoxy,” which explored Orthodox Jewish cultural formations in interwar Poland and post-Holocaust America.

Nathaniel Deutsch from UC Santa Cruz discussed the surprising role of ethnographical awareness in determining Orthodox observance in interwar Poland, while David Myers from UCLA introduced the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Kiryas Joel, in upstate New York, through an analysis of the expansion of Orthodox practice to the public sphere. Naomi Seidman, director of CJS (left picture), spoke about the (probably apocryphal) martyrological Holocaust narrative of the ninety-three Orthodox girls who committed suicide rather than be taken into a Nazi brothel.

The evening ended with a keynote talk by Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland (right picture). Schudrich, in conversation with Shana Penn, visiting scholar at CJS, brought the discussion back to where it began, with Orthodoxy in Poland, focusing on contemporary Orthodoxy and its place in a wider religious and secular Jewish spectrum. Rabbi Schudrich also spoke more generally of the role of Jewish observance in creating new forms of community in contemporary Poland, where a small but growing number of Poles have begun to explore their Jewish ancestry.

Listen to all of the presentations from the conference.