Confessions of the Shtetl
Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906
Stanford University Press 2017
New Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network January 10, 2017 Shira Kohn
In Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906 (Stanford University Press, 2016), Ellie Schainker, the Arthur Blank Family Foundation Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Emory University, complicates the traditional narrative of Jewish religious insularity within Imperial Russia in her new book on converts from Judaism. By exploring 19th century Russia’s multi-confessional landscape and the spaces in which Jewish men and women encountered those of other religious communities, Schainker uses the lens of conversion to explore Jewish and Russian Orthodox anxieties over group boundaries and the extent to which converts, far from being exiles within their Jewish communities, occupied sustained, liminal positions that attracted the interests of Jews, Christians, and Russian state officials.