Jewish Heritage Travel in Eastern Europe

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July 30, 2014 @ 2:45 pm – 4:00 pm
IAJGS conference
255 South West Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

As the author of National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe, and the coordinator of the web site, I conduct an illustrated virtual tour of far-flung synagogues, shtetls, Jewish cemeteries, and other Jewish heritage sites in a variety of countries in East-Central Europe. I describe personal experiences and discuss the many changes I have witnessed in a quarter century of exploration of Jewish heritage. These include efforts at reconstructing Jewish life, with new forms of Jewishness, Jewish practice, and religious and cultural expression. I describe how I coined the term “Virtually Jewish” to describe non-Jewish involvement, embrace, appropriation and engagement with Jews and Jewish culture — and what that means in today’s changing conditions. There are new realities and new authenticities; new definitions of “Jewish.” In places like Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter of Krakow, for example, community and commercialism can both combine and collide.

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