Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century Discover History, Art, Writings - Primary Sources from Biblical Times to the 21st Century

“The Posen Library’s digital platform (PDL) makes accessible little-known documents of the Jewish past that add enormously to the effectiveness of the classroom. Via a user-friendly website, professors and students can analyze the intimate letters between an early modern Jewish husband and wife, probe the meanings of a blessing warning of Jewish heresy, and investigate the life of a medieval midwife through her diary, among many other gems. The Posen Library opens a world of Jewish creativity.”
—NANCY SINKOFF, Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers University


“Teacher and Students in a Heder, Lublin” (1920s) by Alter-Sholem Kacyzne (1885–1941)

Teacher and Students in a Heder, Lublin (1920s) by Alter-Sholem Kacyzne (1885–1941) Credit: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the Forward Association

Jewish Religious and Spiritual Culture

The Posen Digital Library (PDL) features hundreds of images and excerpts from primary sources related to Jewish religious and spiritual culture. In these 3–5 minute Teaching Clip videos available to use FREE in your lectures and classes, Professor Elisheva Carlebach, Columbia University, or Professor Zvi Gitelman, University of Michigan, discuss issues as varied as Jewish crafts and rituals from birth to death (TC #2) and gender, cultural, and educational expectations 1918–1939 (TC #8).

Handicrafts and Jewish Rituals: Posen Library Teaching Clip #2

Secular Jews Break with Traditional Jewish Education: Posen Library Teaching Clip #8

Handicrafts and Jewish Rituals: Posen Library Teaching Clip #2

Handicrafts and Jewish Rituals: Teaching Clip #2 introduces us to crafts that were used to beautify Jewish ritual. In showing us a “wimpel” or Torah binder designed in 1814 to cover an infant boy at the time of his circumcision, Elisheva Carlebach tells us how sewing and artistic design reflect life-cycle roles and rituals from birth to death, symbolically revealing how gender expectations remained fixed throughout a Jewish lifetime. The wimpel that appears in this video clip made its way from a family ritual to a synagogue ornament.

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Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: birth, childhood, circumcision, handicrafts, synagogue, Torah

Secular Jews Break with Traditional Jewish Education: Posen Library Teaching Clip #8

Secular Jews Break with Traditional Jewish Education: Posen Library Teaching Clip #8 traces the breakdown in cultural, educational, and gender expectations in the interwar period, 1918 to 1939. Zvi Gitelman begins with a pre-Holocaust photograph of a heder, or small classroom for religious Jewish boys in Eastern Europe. Alter-Sholem Kacyzne’s Teacher and Students in a Heder, Lublin shows a traditional classroom from the 1920s. Later in the video clip, Gitelman presents Bruno Schulz’s painting, The Meeting: A Jewish Youth and Two Women in an Urban Alley (1920), showing the anxiety of gender expectations in religious male encounters with women.

Related PDL Readings – Register on the PDL to access. Registration is fast and free!

Suggested search terms on PDL for more related selections: childhood, education, modernity, photography, poverty, secular Jews, sex

Tip for Teachers: : To avoid YouTube pre-roll ads, use the “insert” feature on Google Slides or PowerPoint when you link to the video on YouTube. Or play the Teaching Clip on our pages. FYI, here are brief videos on how to use YouTube videos in your Zoom sessionhow to insert a playable YouTube video into a Google Doc, and how to insert a playable YouTube video into PowerPoint 2020.

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