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Confessions of the ShtetlConverts from Judaism in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906$
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Ellie R. Schainker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804798280

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804798280.001.0001

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Shtetls, Taverns, and Baptisms

Shtetls, Taverns, and Baptisms

Chapter:
(p.85) Chapter 3 Shtetls, Taverns, and Baptisms
Source:
Confessions of the Shtetl
Author(s):

Ellie R. Schainker

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804798280.003.0004

Chapter 3 explores the social dynamics of religious toleration and the confessional state from below by examining the spaces of Jewish conversion. The chapter presents a range of conversion narratives which locate interfaith encounters at the local tavern as the springboard for migrating to a different confessional community. It analyzes daily social interactions among Jewish and neighboring Polish, Lithuanian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian communities, and how these encounters nurtured intimate knowledge of other confessional lifestyles, facilitated interfaith relationships, and provided access to the personnel and institutions of other faiths. By taking a geographical approach, the chapter presents the western provincial towns and villages of imperial Russia as interreligious zones wherein conversion was predicated on interconfessional networks, sociability, and a personal familiarity with Christianity via its adherents. In exploring forms of encounter, the chapter highlights the role of the local godparent—often local elites or civil/military personnel—in facilitating confessional transfers.

Keywords:   shtetl, tavern, conversion, intermarriage, interfaith sociability, imperial western provinces, borderlands, multiconfessionalism, baptismal godparents

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