A Modern Jewish Cemetery on the Russian Pale
About the Book
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, a traditional Jewish cemetery was established in the small town of Bagnowka, located near the urban center of Bialystok in current northeastern Poland. Though governed then by Tsarist Russia, Bialystok was still inspired by the teachings of the Torah, the Talmud, and the greater rabbinic community. Yet this was also a time of societal upheaval as a wave of modernity swept over Eastern Europe, bringing with it religious diversity, revolution, and a more secular way of life that would also impact the structure and material culture of this cemetery. Bagnowka: A Modern Jewish Cemetery on the Russian Pale tells the story of this cemetery from its founding in 1892 to its devastation during and after the Holocaust, as well as its recent restoration-in-progress. Drawing on Bagnowka’s epitaphs and tombstone art, archival records, period newspapers, photographs, and more, Heidi M. Szpek reveals how this cemetery serves as a reflection of a once traditional Jewish world impacted by modernity.
About the Author
Heidi M. Szpek is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Central Washington University. She currently also serves as a translator, epigrapher and consultant for Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej Polska-Izrael (Poland), assisting with restoration of the Jewish cemetery of Bagnowka in Bialystok, Poland. Dr. Szpek has contributed articles on Jewish epitaphs, Jewish heritage, and the Hebrew Bible to academic journals and to The Jewish Magazine online.