Polish Jewish Conference & Concert

The Fifth Annual Polish Jewish Studies Workshop “Centering the Periphery: Polish Jewish Production Beyond the Capital” with the accompanying concert “Soundscapes of Modernity: Jews and Music in Polish Cities,” happened at Rutgers University on March 5-6, 2018. Taking place from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days, the 2018 Polish Jewish Studies Workshop focused on Jewish cultural production, but also on cultural collaborations and tensions between Christians and Jews in the years of Poland’s partitions and independence (1772-1939) in urban centers other than Warsaw— especially Wilno, Lwów, Kraków, and Łódź. For a full schedule, see the conference website:

The “Soundscapes of Modernity” concert took place on March 5 and explored how Jewish inhabitants of Polish cities, like their counterparts elsewhere, responded to the challenges of modernity in diverse ways, which included reshaping the musical soundscapes of their communities. This concert presented music of Polish Jews that is little known to American audiences—choral pieces from 19th-century progressive (“Reform”) congregations, compositions associated with Jewish music societies, and avant-garde works by Jewish composers. Composers included: Jakob Leopold Weiss (1825–1889), Abraham Ber Birnbaum (1865–1922), Paula Szalit (1886–1920), Henryk Cylkow (1866–1945), Paweł Anhalt (1910–?), Aleksander Tansman (1897–1986), Artur Gold (1897–1943), Zavel Zilberts (1881–1949), Józef Koffler (1896–1944), Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809–1847), and Izrael Fajwiszys (1887–1943). Performers included the Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir with Patrick Gardner, Director; Erin Schwab, Soprano; Lucy Lee, Viola; Enriqueta Somarriba, Piano; Jordan Enzinger, Cello; and Jihyang Seo, Violin.

Founded in 2013, the Polish Jewish Studies Initiative (PJSI) is an international, interdisciplinary forum for scholars involved in research and teaching at the intersection of Polish and Jewish studies. This collaboration has generated an annual Polish Jewish Studies Workshop (PJSW) that brings together scholars, public intellectuals, artists, and cultural workers to identify new theoretical and methodological developments in the field of Polish Jewish Studies; to help scholars keep abreast of each others’ work across linguistic and continental divides; and to consider new vocabularies and research strategies in a hybrid and transnational cultural landscape. The PJSI Advisory Committee welcomes inquiries from institutions and organizations interested in applying to host the annual international Polish Jewish Studies Workshop.

Monday, March 5, 2018 | 7:30PM – 9:00PM
Soundscapes of Modernity Concert: Jews and Music in Polish Cities

Rutgers University – Kirkpatrick Chapel
81 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
FREE Admission; FREE Parking Rutgers Lot 1

[Sources: press release, sas.rutgers.edu]