Boston: Jewish life in the Russian Empire, May 3

If your ancestors lived in the Russian Empire, a program devoted to everyday Jewish life in the Russian Empire will help answer questions about your family’s lives.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston (JGSGB) will host Brandeis University Associate Professor ChaeRan Freeze at 1.30pm, Sunday, May 3, at Gann Academy in Waltham.

Freeze will examine everyday Jewish life in tsarist Russia as a site of interaction with modernity, where Jews confronted the unfamiliar and negotiated their environment in strategic and creative ways.

She will present several archival documents from the former Soviet Union and rabbinical responsa that reveal the daily struggles of ordinary Jews as they confronted changes in the areas of family life, religion, sexuality and health.

The discussion will also reveal how to find new sources for genealogy that go beyond vital records and census materials, and highlight the rich diversity of the Jewish experience in the Russian Empire.

At Brandeis, she is an associate professor in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research focused on the history and culture of the Jews in Russia, Jewish family history, and women’s and gender studies.

Freeze’s books include “Jewish Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia,”(Salo Baron Award for the Best First Book in Jewish Studies); edited “Polin: Jewish Women in Eastern Europe,” with Paula Hyman and Antony Polonsky; is currently finishing “Everyday Jewish Life in Imperial Russia, 1825-1914: Select Documents,” co-authored with Jay Harris (2010). She is working on her second monograph, “Sex and the Shtetl: Gender, Family, and Jewish Sexuality in Tsarist Russia.”

The program is free for JGSGB members; others, $5. For directions, click here. The JGSGB website is here, or email for more information.

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