Events by Day

[Re]Thinking Jewish Heritage
18 March 2019
On March 18, 2019, at 6.30 pm, the presentation of the book "The Remembered and Forgotten Jewish World: Heritage Tourism in Europe and the United States" (Rutgers University Press, 2018) will bring together Daniel Walkowitz, a historian and the author of the book, Marla Raucher Osborn and Jay Osborn, co-founders of the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage. Together they will discuss the meanings and implications of contemporary heritage tourism, bringing in perspectives of research, family history, and activism. 
 
Daniel Walkowitz, as a radical student activist in the late 1950s and 1960s, imagined himself walking in the footsteps of his Paterson, NJ, grandparents who fought to improve the living and working conditions in the textile mills in Lodz, Poland, and Paterson. In The Remembered and Forgotten Jewish World, he investigates the politics of heritage tourism and collective memory to see and hear what of these roots appear in walking tours, Jewish museums, and memorial sites.  In an account that is part travelogue, part social history, and part family saga, the author visits key Jewish museums and heritage sites from Berlin to Belgrade, from Krakow to Kiev, and from Warsaw to New York. 
 
His analysis resonates with the views expressed by scholars at a 1999 conference celebrating the 26th anniversary of the publication of Irving Howe’s prize-winning opus, World of Our Fathers. They observed that the world of Yiddishkeit he chronicled has largely been displaced in heritage tourism by a Holocaust narrative. Touring heritage sites in the years after 2011 confirmed the continuing dominance of such a narrative that focused on sites of the Shoah and remnants of synagogues and cemeteries. The prewar life of the Jewish community, when discussed at all, highlighted the achievements of great men – rabbis, scholars, and philanthropists (and their wives); everyday quotidian experiences of the poor, the working class, shopkeepers and of their wives and children received little attention. Therefore, he conceptualizes how New Jewish History can offer the potential of a new paradigm for Jewish Heritage tourism, even as the Holocaust narrative remained dominant. 

The presentation will begin with introduction talk by Daniel Walkowitz and continue as a conversation with practitioners and researchers working in Lviv: Marla Raucher Osborn and Jay Osborn, who are former California professionals in law and engineering, now living in Lviv and working in the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage NGO and initiative. Moderated by historian Sofia Dyak, this discussion will become an opportunity to explore the possibilities, challenges, disappointments, and surprises that frame the robust and changing terrain of Jewish Heritage and heritage tourism today.

Daniel Walkowitz, professor emeritus at the Department of History and Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Labor and urban historian who for nearly two decades directed the Metropolitan Studies Program at the University and pioneered its Public History Program. His works include the book "Workers of the Donbass Speak: Survival and Identity in the New Ukraine" with Lewis H. Siegelbaum (SUNY Press, 1995) and "City Folk: English Country Dance and the Politics of the Folk in Modern America" (NYU Press, 2010). His new book focuses on the politics of Jewish heritage tourism in eleven cities and eight countries, including Lviv and Kiev in Ukraine.

Marla Raucher Osborn is a former California attorney and a Jewish descendant of Rohatyn, today living in Lviv with her husband. She is founder and CEO of Rohatyn Jewish Heritage, an advisor to the Board of Gesher Galicia on matters of Jewish heritage in historic Galicia, and a board member of Remembrance & Reconciliation, a U.S. non-profit that cares for the Przemyśl new Jewish cemetery. Marla has written for many genealogy and heritage publications and has lectured at schools, meetings, and conferences in the US, Israel, and Europe including Rohatyn.

Jay Osborn is Program Manager of Rohatyn Jewish Heritage and former mechanical engineer for Sun Microsystems and Apple. Jay has served on the Board of Gesher Galicia, Inc., and is today Digital Map Manager of GG's online Map Room which presents more than 200 digitized
large-scale historical maps of Galician towns, cities, and villages for genealogical, economic, and demographic analysis.

Rohatyn Jewish Heritage (RJH, www.rohatynjewishheritage.org) is a volunteer-led Ukrainian non-profit NGO focused on documenting, preserving, and rehabilitating the Jewish heritage sites in Rohatyn, a town between Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk. Working with regional activists and educators since 2011, RJH conducts and publishes multidisciplinary research and organizes practical projects to recover the history and cultural heritage of the lost Jewish community of Rohatyn, and to help reintegrate the area's multicultural past into modern society.