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On January 25 and 26, the Nevzlin Center for Russian and East European Jewry at the Hebrew University Jerusalem, the Open University of Israel and UvA Jewish Studies jointly organize this workshop. The workshop intends to explore the socio-economic, demographic, cultural and political conditions, which led to the transformations in urban space during interwar period. Each session will include presentation followed by short response and open discussion. Participants are encouraged to examine the social, economic, architectural and aesthetic changes, which took place in the configuration of the urban; in Eastern, Western and Southern Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Special emphasis will be given to the comparison between urban change in Eastern Europe and similar processes worldwide. If you wish to attend, please register via the registration form bellow.
Event details of Revolutionizing the City: Urban Reality in the Wake of October 1917
Start date
25 January 2023
End date
26 January 2023
Room: JK1.05
Leningrad, 1930s, Yakov Faivilovich (at the front, with a beard): a provincial Jew who made a rapid career under the Soviet regime. From the family archive of Maria Balakireva, presented at the exhibition “Jewish Family Heirlooms” (2010-2011) to St. Petersburg Judaica Center, European University at St. Petersburg.

About the program

The October 1917 Revolution and the disintegration of the Russian Imperial space following World War I had a significant impact on the ways in which urban space all around the world was conceptualized and experienced by its inhabitancy, professionals, writers, artists, and policy makers. The establishment of a communist regime over the core territories of the Tsarist Empire, on the one hand, and the foundation of national states in its western periphery, on the other, brought about a dramatic change in the social, economic, and cultural structure of both of large and small cities in Russia and Eastern Europe. Metropolitan cities began to lose their central status, while smaller cities became administrative, economic, and cultural centers following the new spatial partitions, internal migration, and mass emigration out and within of the Russian borders. These processes had a particular influence on the cities and towns of western parts of the former Russian Empire which largely overlap the Jewish Pale of Settlement. In fact, Jews who constituted a large part of the urban population in this region, stood in the focus of spatial changes in Eastern Europe between the two world wars.

Yet paradoxically the weakening of Russian hegemony in Eastern Europe after the October Revolution went along with the strengthening of its global status as a cradle of the revolution. The Soviet policy of accelerated modernization and social change brought in its wake a profound change in urban realities and urban planning regimes, which resonated throughout Europe, Asia, the Americas and even North Africa. In the 1920s and 1930s the accelerated process of internal migration, the expansion of travel and industrial infrastructures brought about the expansion of small to mid-size towns, many of them consisted larger Jewish population, which either stood on their own or in the vicinity of larger urban conglomerations. Despite similar tendencies, urban change had unique characteristics in each region.

Wednesday, January 25 (10:00 - 18:00) 

10:00 Keynote presentation:
- Ewa Bérard (French National Center of Scientific Research, Paris). From the Wandering Jew to Urban Migrations: Shtetl, Shtot and Metropolis.

12:00 Panel 1:
- Semion Goldin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Cataclysm and Renewal: Jewish Population on the Frontline and at the Rear During World War I.
- Anna Kushkova (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). “The Soviet Pale” around Moscow: Jewish Halfway to Urbanism, 1920-1930.

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Panel 2:
- Rafi Tsirkin-Sadan (The Open University of Israel). From Periphery to Center and Back: Haim Lensky’s Leningrad Sonnets. 
- Marjanne Oosting (University of Amsterdam). Between Rome and Jerusalem: the town N. in Der Nister’s The Family Mashber.
- Atinati Mamatsashvili (Ilia State University Tbilisi/NIAS). “The City without Jews”: an Imaginary City, an Imagined City.

16:30 Tour around Jewish Amsterdam

Thursday, January 26 (09:30 - 17:30)

9:30 Visit to the International Institute for Social History

12:00 Panel 3:
- Marcos Silber (University of Haifa). Centering the Periphery: Lodz and the Creation of the New Popular Culture (1912-1921).
- Ewa Stanczyk (University of Amsterdam). Welcome to Nalewki Street: Satire, Cartoons, and Urban Life in Interwar Poland.

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Panel 4:
- Irene Zwiep (University of Amsterdam). Restoring the City: Interbellum City Planning and the Construction of the Amsterdam ‘Ghetto’.
- Bart Wallet (University of Amsterdam). Religious Dynamics and Urban Planning: Transforming Judaism in Interbellum Amsterdam.

16:30 Panel 5:
- Avriel Bar-Levav (The Open University of Israel). A Jewish Library in the City: Identity and Cultural Ecology.
- Eli Lederhendler (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Separated by Common Origins: How Were Jews in America Affected by Events in Eastern Europe After 1917.

Roeterseilandcampus - building J/K

Room Room: JK1.05
Valckenierstraat 65-67
1018 XE Amsterdam