Litvakia revisited

This is my latest link in the documentation of "Litvakia":

Lituanie Juive 1918-1940 Reviewed by Joost van Beek (in English)

What is Litvakia?

    Now Litvakia, of course, is a country which has never appeared on any map. In fact, it‘s never been a country in any accepted sense of the word. It is, or rather was, a cultural realm. The name designates the world in which the Jews of Vilnius, of Kaunas, of Grodno, Bialystok, Riga, and Minsk lived and worked, during the centuries they constituted an important minority in the region. Although there are still a few Jews living in Vilnius now, the Litvak centuries lasted essentially from about 1300 to the time of the Holocaust. That dramatic annihilation of a people and a culture de facto ended the era of Jewish influence in the region and scattered the survivors over many continents.

     The above-mentioned notion of Litvakia, of a cultural specificity and unity of the Jews of this region, constitutes the basic premise of the book. Borders shifted and authorities imposed themselves, but this community of Jews had, in all its paradoxes and antagonisms, a certain sense of common identity and destiny. In fact, Henri Minczeles goes so far as to suggest the Litvaks were - in their way - a kind of nation: "Litvakia - that is a collective soul, a profound desire to be who one is, to have wrought great things together and to achieve new ones, a bit in the way Ernest Renan expressed it when he spoke of peoples and nations." (p.269).
This is an extended book review of a French book on the subject. Zamenhof, of course, was a Litvak, and "Litvakia" was the breeding ground of major Jewish cultural innovators.

For more, see this subsection of my Zamenhof Web Guide . . .

Zamenhof en/in Bialystok / Litova juda vivo / Litvak Jewish life

There you will find links pertaining to Zamenhof and to Bialystok and "Litvakia" more generally.

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