Can jews become farmers? rurality, peasantry and cultural identity in the world of the rural jew in nineteenth-century eastern Europe

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3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Based on conventional learning and supported in no small measure by stereotypes, agriculture as a vocation was not considered as part of the occupational profile of Jewish society in Eastern Europe until the Second World War. However, various studies show that in different regions in this area, primarily Lithuania, White Russia, north eastern Poland, and Bessarabia, tens of thousands of Jews made a living from direct engagement in various branches of agriculture, including field crops, orchards, lake fishing, etc. These Jews lived mainly in the rural areas and were a factor, and at times a highly significant one, in the local demographic and economic structure. The first part of this article examines the question whether these Jews, who were part of the general rural society living in the countryside, developed a certain type of rural cultural identity. This question is discussed by examining various aspects of their attitude towards nature. The second part of the article considers the possible influence of the agricultural occupation on the shaping of a unique peasant cultural identity among these rural Jews and the ways they coped with the accompanying religious, social and cultural implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-175
Number of pages15
JournalRural History: Economy, Society, Culture
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies

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