Program Details

The Influence of Jewish Culture on Great Cities

Stephen Berk
Jewish Culture & History / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Jews have always lived in cities, even in the ancient period when the bulk of the Jewish population consisted of farmers. In modern times the number of Jews living in cities grew tremendously. There are a number of reasons for this, but what is most important is that in these urban areas Jewish creativity blossomed. This series looks at the various ways urban Jews influenced the course of Jewish and world history.


  1. New York, NY and Krakow, Poland: The Big Apple became the greatest Jewish City in the world and Łódź, Poland was a center of Jewish bourgeois and proletarian life.
  2. Warsaw and Lviv: New York was larger, but in terms of culture, religion and vitality, nothing rivaled Warsaw and Lviv, in the heart of Galitsia, was also impressive.
  3. Vilna and Odessa:  Vilna was called the Jerusalem of Lithuania and some Jews said the fires of hell burned form miles around Odessa, a City of sceptics and apikorsim.
  4. Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Czernowitz:  The two Russian cities had large Jewish populations and were centers of Jewish creativity under tsars and commissars and the Romanian City is largely overlooked as an important Jewish center.

About the Instructor

  • Stephen Berk, PhD, is a Professor of History at Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he holds the Henry and Sally Schaffer Chair in Holocaust and Jewish Studies. He is the author of Year of Crisis, Year of Hope: Russian Jewry and the Pogroms of 1881-1882. Berk has written articles on Russian and Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and the Middle East. In 2010, Berk was designated an Israel Hero for his defense and advocacy of the State of Israel by JERNY, the Jewish Educational Resources of New York. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Citizen Laureate Award from the University of Albany Foundation.  

Upcoming programs presented by Stephen Berk.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart