Town Fools, Beggars, and Other Outcasts: Bringing the Margins to the Center in East European Jewish History.
In literature, the Jewish landscape of 19th- and early 20th-century Eastern Europe is often populated by an array of social outcasts, including the mentally ill, physically disabled people, beggars, vagrants, and poor orphans. In this talk, Natan Meir will focus on these "marginal folk" and on the lives they led in both the shtetl and the city. Studying social outcasts can provide us with important insights into the changing mentalities of Jewish society over an extended historical period.
Dr. Natan Meir, the Lorry I. Lokey Chair in Judaic Studies at Portland State University, is the recipient of the 2016 Ruth and David Musher / JDC Archives Fellowship. He is using the fellowship toward his research on the “Republic of Beggars,” – the Jewish destitute, disabled, and disposed of in prewar Eastern Europe.
This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish History and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.