My dissertation, titled “‘A Time to Gather’: A History of Jewish Archives in the Twentieth Century,” is a study of the development of Jewish archives in transnational perspective, focusing on a series of archive projects in Germany, the United States, and Israel/Palestine. It draws out the history of Jewish archives beginning with rising scholarly interest in archives as the prime source of Jewish history and concluding with struggles over archival treasures following the Second World War. The dissertation brings a critical perspective to the nature of archival collecting and its relationship with the development of the discipline of Jewish studies. It considers not just the trajectory of archival collecting in Jewish history but also its limits and horizons: what these efforts represent within the broader informational deluge of the twentieth century as well as radical transformations that rocked Jewish life around the world in the first half of the twentieth century.
In a world where historical sources and archives are increasingly made available digitally, this project and the issues that it raises are especially relevant. We must continue to give concerted thought to an earlier age when sources were collected specifically because scholars felt that they were in danger of being lost, and to the geographical meaning of gathering the sources—which remain the foundation of not only Jewish studies but of many of the humanities and social sciences to this day—in a single physical location.
Ongoing Research and Future Projects
My dissertation project reflects a broader set of interests that drive an ambitious and diverse research program. I am focused on how Jews around the world, both professional historians as well as everyday people, have approached their past and how that shapes their future. In this respect, it falls within the framework of the examination of Jewish historiography. But my approach extends beyond the networks of professional or aspiring scholars such as Wissenschaft des Judentums, Hokhmat Yisrael, or well-known twentieth century groups like the "Jerusalem scholars" of Hebrew University and YIVO, the Yiddish Scientific Institute. I am interested in the relationship between the production of scholarly figures and the way in which the general public has related to the past.
I am currently editing my dissertation to transform the manuscript into a book. I also am writing a set of articles that stem from my research in the history of Jewish archives, but which I did not have the opportunity to explore in the dissertation in depth.
- “Who Are to Be the Successors of European Jewry? The Restitution of German Jewish Communal and Cultural Property.” Journal of Contemporary History 52, no. 3 (2017): 519–545.