Hillel J. Kieval

Hillel J. Kieval

Chair and Professor of Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies
Professor of History
Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought
PhD, Harvard University
AM, Harvard University
AB, Harvard University
research interests:
  • Jewish History since the 18th century
  • Central and Eastern Europe
  • Antisemitism
  • The Holocaust
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    Professor Kieval teaches broadly in European Jewish history from medieval to modern times. His research focuses on transformations in Jewish culture and society in East Central Europe from the Enlightenment to the Second World War.

    Hillel J. Kieval is the Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought at Washington University in St. Louis. A historian of Jewish culture and society in Central and Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, his research interests range widely: from pathways of Jewish acculturation and integration to the impact of nationalism and ethnic conflict on modern Jewish identities; from cross-cultural conflicts and misunderstandings to the discursive practices of modern antisemitism; and from theories of Jewish citizenship to the phenomenology of "ritual murder" trials at the turn of the 20th century. Among his numerous books and articles are The Making of Czech Jewry: National Conflict and Jewish Society in Bohemia, 1870-1918 (1988); Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands (2000); and, forthcoming, Blood Inscriptions: Science, Modernity, and Ritual Murder in Fin de Siècle Europe.

    Educated at Harvard University, Hillel Kieval has taught previously at Brandeis University and the University of Washington. He has also held visiting appointments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at Penn, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the University of Vilnius, and the Universidad Hebraica in Mexico City.

    The Making of Czech Jewry

    The Making of Czech Jewry

    Examining the post-emancipatory, post-industrial transformation of Czech-Jewish society, Hillel J. Kieval focuses on the Czech-Jewish movement and Prague Zionism, charting their development up to the start of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Though different in fundamental ways, the Czech-Jewish movement and Prague Zionism held remarkable similarities: both emerged from the second phase of modernization of Bohemian Jewry; both represented a turnabout in cultural and national loyalties; and both, ironically, saw themselves as the best vehicle for Jewish integration into a nationally charged, highly contentious, European environment. Emphasizing the multi-ethnic character of the region, the linguistic dexterity and cultural ambiguity of its Jewish population, and the decisive impact of national conflict on the creation of Jewish attitudes and behavior, the book offers a new picture--the first in English--of the social and cultural life of Central European Jewry at the turn of the century.

    Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands

    Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands

    With a keen eye for revealing details, Hillel J. Kieval examines the contours and distinctive features of Jewish experience in the lands of Bohemia and Moravia (the present-day Czech Republic), from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century. In the Czech lands, Kieval writes, Jews have felt the need constantly to define and articulate the nature of group identity, cultural loyalty, memory, and social cohesiveness, and the period of "modernizing" absolutism, which began in 1780, brought changes of enormous significance. From that time forward, new relationships with Gentile society and with the culture of the state blurred the traditional outlines of community and individual identity. Kieval navigates skillfully among histories and myths as well as demography, biography, culture, and politics, illuminating the maze of allegiances and alliances that have molded the Jewish experience during these 200 years.

    Formování českého židovstva: Národnostní konflikt a židovská společnost v Čechách 1870–1918

    Formování českého židovstva: Národnostní konflikt a židovská společnost v Čechách 1870–1918

    Společnost a kultura v českých zemích procházely na přelomu 19. století proměnami, jež navždy změnily podobu českého židovstva. Vyostřený etnický nacionalismus a demografické tlaky vedly ke druhé židovské modernizaci a ke dvěma velkým experimentům - k "českožidovskému hnutí" a "pražskému sionismu". Tato dvě hnutí, ačkoliv podstatně protichůdná, si byla v některých ohledech pozoruhodně podobná. Autor sleduje jejich osudy a ukazuje, v čem předjímala chování Židů ve 20. století a židovskou kulturní adaptaci v prvních letech nové československé republiky. Kniha polemizuje s převládající představou o pražském a českém židovstvu jako baště německé kultury a politického liberalismu v nepřátelském slovanském světě. Formování českého židovstva patří k základním textům moderní historiografie židovstva.