Making Jews Modern: The Yiddish and Ladino Press in the Russian by Sarah Abrevaya Stein Ph.D.
On the eve of the 20th century, Jews in the Russian and Ottoman empires were caught up in the major cultural and social transformations that constituted modernity for Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewries, respectively. What language should Jews speak or teach their children? Should Jews acculturate, and if so, into what regional or European culture? What did it mean to be Jewish and Russian, Jewish and Ottoman, Jewish and modern? Sarah Abrevaya Stein explores how such questions were formulated and answered within these communities by examining the texts most widely consumed by Jewish readers: popular newspapers in Yiddish and Ladino. Examining the press's role as an agent of historical change, she interrogates a diverse array of verbal and visual texts, including cartoons, photographs, and advertisements. This original and lively study yields new perspectives on the role of print culture in imagining national and transnational communities; Stein's work enriches our sense of cultural life under the rule of multiethnic empires and complicates our understanding of Europe's polyphonic modernities.