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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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From Vodka to Violence

From Vodka to Violence

(p.121) Chapter 4 From Vodka to Violence
Confessions of the Shtetl

Ellie R. Schainker

Stanford University Press

Chapter 4 analyzes narratives of Jewish violence against converts as another aspect of the provincial social threads of conversion. Here, the local spaces of conversion are important for the proximity of baptisms to the controlling gaze of Jewish family and community and the vulnerability of convert relapse into a Jewish milieu. Conversion as a form of boundary crossing raised anxieties about close interfaith living and became a flashpoint for negotiating the local politics of confessional coexistence and religious toleration. In these stories of violence in response to conversions, confessional feuds became family affairs--complete with familial contestation and the breakdown of the imperial, patriarchal family through conversion. The chapter offers a view of Jewish politics, shaped through empire and the confessional state, and the ways Jews worked through state documentary practices to alternatively endorse and resist conversion, and even mimic the previously violent, coercive practices of the state towards converts.

Keywords:   violence, conversion, relapse, metrical records, confessional politics, religious toleration, fanaticism, gender, ritual murder

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