Jewish history of small-town America subject of upcoming lecture at Fairfield University

Jewish history of small-town America subject of upcoming lecture at Fairfield University

Image: All American Shoe Scholar Lee Shai Weissbach, Ph.D., will explore the history and ramifications of Jewish life in small-town America when he speaks at Fairfield University on Thursday, December 5, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the talk, which will be accompanied by intriguing visual images, is sponsored by Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies. It will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room, on the Fairfield campus. There is limited seating. Call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066 to reserve a seat.

"By the 1920s, there were some five hundred smaller cities and towns in the United States with Jewish populations of at least 100 but fewer than 1,000, and the history of these smaller Jewish centers must be taken into account if we are to understand the richness and complexity of the American Jewish experience and appreciate the diversity of small-town society in times past," said Dr. Weissbach, professor of history at the University of Louisville.

In the talk, Dr. Weissbach will focus on the heyday of small-town Jewish life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He'll describe how the smaller Jewish communities of the United States came into being and consider some of the characteristics that made them different from the Jewish communities of America's large and midsize cities.

Dr. Weissbach served as chair of the history department at the University of Louisville, where he was associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1996, he was awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and in 2006 he spent a year as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Haifa in Israel.

Professor Weissbach edited a special issue of the journal Jewish History on the topic of "Synagogue Architecture in Context." His other recent publications include "Jewish Life in Small-Town America: A History" (Yale University Press, 2005) and "A Jewish Life on Three Continents," an edited and annotated version of his grandfather's memoir (Stanford University Press, 2013). Dr. Weissbach received a bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from Harvard.

For more information about the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, and for directions to campus, visit

Image: The early 20th-century Benowitz shoe store in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. It will be discussed at the talk.

Posted On: 11-11-2013 11:11 AM

Volume: 46 Number: 114