Shtetl Part 1: A Jewish Universe
A shtetl is often defined as a Jewish market town located in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and later Russian Pale of Settlement. Usually small and self-contained, shtetls were vibrant centers of Jewish life and tradition.
These simple definitions do not explain the importance and influence of a shtetl on Jewish life and culture. This talk will help us find our own answers to many questions about the phenomenon of a shtetl:
What was so unique about the shtetl?
Why do some researches call it “Jewish Atlantis”?
What made the life of the Jewish community in the shtetl so special?
What makes a town a shtetl?
What did the shtetl look like and who actually lived there?
Were there any non-Jews in the shtetl?
In addition, we will discuss food, traditions, language, beliefs, jobs, community structure and other important elements of the shtetl’s everyday life.
Evgenia Kempinski is a Russian Jew born and raised in St. Petersburg. Her family was originally from the Pale of Settlement – Poland, Ukraine and Belorussia. She has been an official St. Petersburg tour guide for over 15 years and she is the founder and owner of St.Petersburg Jewish Tours – a company offering Jewish travelers a unique experience of showcasing the best of the former Soviet Union and Scandinavia from a Jewish point of view. She currently lives in Haifa, Israel,