In May and June, 2019 within the framework of the fellowship project Dr. Ellie R. Schainker, associate professor of History and Jewish studies at the Emory University (Atlanta, USA) visited Moscow.
Dr. Schainker worked on the project Rites of Empire: Jewish Religious Reforms in Imperial Russia, 1850-1917. This project reconsidered the supposed irreconcilability between modernity and religion through Judaism’s encounter with Russian imperial modernization and the diversity of Jewish life in pre-war Eastern Europe. Rites of Empire charted new territory in Jewish and Russian history by exploring non-traditional forms of Judaism in the Russian empire in the half century leading up to World War I and the Russian Revolution.
With this grant, Dr. Schainker spent a month conducting qualitative, archival research in Moscow to explore how the Russian empire, home to Europe’s largest Jewish population over the long nineteenth century, tried to reform Judaism and how Jews responded to and independently shaped their religious lives. Relevant sources in Moscow archives (GARF, TsGAM) included: institutional records of Jewish communal organizations and synagogues, personal papers of a Jewish Duma member and communal activists, and state bureaucratic correspondence regarding synagogues, rabbis, and daily religious life.
Dr. Schainker also researched this theme in her dissertation Imperial Hybrids: Russian-Jewish Converts in the Nineteenth Century (2010). She won a National Jewish Book Award in 2017 for her book Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906.