Monument to the destroyed main synagogue in Bialystok. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber
Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora, by Rebecca Kobrin, a new book about Bialystok and the Jews who both lived and left there, has been published by the University of Indiana Press. From the description, it sounds as if it shows how memories of "the old country" are connected with the reality of the New World.
The mass migration of East European Jews and their resettlement in cities throughout Europe, the United States, Argentina, the Middle East and Australia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries not only transformed the demographic and cultural centers of world Jewry, it also reshaped Jews' understanding and performance of their diasporic identities. Rebecca Kobrin's study of the dispersal of Jews from one city in Poland -- Bialystok -- demonstrates how the act of migration set in motion a wide range of transformations that led the migrants to imagine themselves as exiles not only from the mythic Land of Israel but most immediately from their east European homeland. Kobrin explores the organizations, institutions, newspapers, and philanthropies that the Bialystokers created around the world and that reshaped their perceptions of exile and diaspora.