Gershon D. Hundert,
Editor in Chief
Online Edition now available!
Honorable Mention, Dartmouth Medal (American Library Association, References and User Services Association)
Honorable Mention, Multivolume Reference - Humanities & Social Sciences, PROSE Awards (Association of American Publishers, Professional and Scholarly Publishing)
2008 Judaica Reference Award, Association of Jewish Libraries
The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe has been planned to be the definitive reference work on all aspects of the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe from the beginnings of their settlement in the region to the present. This two-volume, 2,400-page encyclopedia, comprising approximately 2 million words, almost 1,200 images (including two 16-page color inserts), and 55 maps, draws on the most current scholarship in all relevant fields and explores Jewish life in all its variety and complexity. The editors’ goal has been to cover everything of cultural or historical significance using an ecumenical, nondenominational, and nonideological editorial approach. This project is unprecedented. To this day, a full-fledged encyclopedia dedicated exclusively to the centuries-long history and culture of East European Jewry has never appeared.
Under the direction of Editor in Chief Gershon David Hundert, professor of history and chair of the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University, 450 internationally recognized scholars has served as editors and contributors. The YIVO Encyclopedia not only provides a forum for their collective knowledge, but also serves as a meeting point for a new generation of scholars from former Communist Europe and their colleagues from North America, Israel, and Western Europe. The encyclopedia brings their scholarship together for the first time.
When published in 2008, the print and electronic versions of the YIVO Encyclopedia will offer a much needed revision of the East European Jewish experience, with up-to-date scholarship, diversity of contributors, and attention to previously overlooked aspects of history and culture.
Why an Encyclopedia on Jews in Eastern Europe?
Of the more than 13 million Jews worldwide (including over 6 million in the United States, 5 million in Israel, and more than 650,000 in Eastern Europe), many seek information about their origins and the lives of their ancestors, but surprisingly, no publication has ever attempted to systematically represent the entire historical legacy of this culture until now. The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe also will provide an authoritative reference for scholars in such fields as Jewish Studies, East European Studies, and Slavic Studies. The volumes will provide East Europeans with a much-needed resource for studying aspects of their national histories that were neglected and even suppressed for decades under the Soviet system. For the purposes of this encyclopedia, the geographical parameters are the regions east of Germany, north of the Balkans, and west of the Ural Mountains—borders corresponding roughly to today’s Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. The 1,800 entries cover events, people, places, and related topics from the earliest Jewish settlements in the region to 2000.
Furthermore, as the study of the Holocaust becomes more and more established in American high schools and universities, and Holocaust museums in many cities and towns draw thousands of visitors, there is a growing recognition that awareness of the Holocaust needs to be placed within a broader framework of knowledge about the people and culture destroyed by the Nazis. In some Holocaust museums, special exhibitions have been developed to address this specific concern. The YIVO Encyclopedia offers the general public a high-quality resource for learning more about “The World Before,” as more than one museum refers to the topic.