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Marginal and Marginalized: Tales of the Destitute, Orphaned, and Disabled in Jewish Eastern Europe
Apr 1 2010


Dr. Natan Meir, Portland State University

How do we hear the voices of the voiceless? How do we reconstruct the history of those who were unable to write their own stories? This lecture explores the lives and experiences of Jews at the margins of society—including poor orphans and widows and the physically and mentally disabled—in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Eastern Europe. Drawing on a wide range of documents, including YIVO's large collection of kvitlekh (requests to rabbis asking for blessing and advice), Meir examines the Jewish community's attitudes toward these individuals, who were often both excluded from the mainstream and dependent on the community for survival. This "history from the margins" attempts to move us toward a richer and fuller portrait of East European Jewish society than we have ever had before.

Marginal and Marginalized Audio