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Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora

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Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora

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Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora
Origins, Experiences, and Culture
Edited by M. Avrum Ehrlich
ABC-CLIO, (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-85109-873-6

Reviewed by Boris Segel - February 20, 2009

Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture is a comprehensive three-volume set that chronicles the history of the Jewish diaspora from the destruction of the first temple and the beginning of the Babylonia exile in the 6th Century B.C.E. to the present day. The first volume of this encyclopedia contains about 100 essays on all aspects of the Jewish Diaspora, and volumes two and three contain hundreds of additional entries that provide an in-depth, analysis of the various countries, regions, and communities in which Jews have dwelt during the diaspora.

The essays in volume one are organized into twelve thematic sections covering topics such as: Volumes two and three are truly international in scope and cover just about every region or community in which Jews have lived in the past, as well as those regions where Jews currently reside. The essays in these two volumes explore the historic record, as well as the experiences, both political and cultural, of Jews during their residence in each region or area. Current data about modern Jewish communities is also examined. The material in these last two volumes is organized by region, with sections covering Africa, Australasia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, Baltic States, Scandinavia, Caucasus and Central Asia, East Asia, India and Pakistan Southeast Asia. Throughout, not only are large Jewish communities such as those in Italy and United States covered, but also minuscule Jewish communities, such as those in Iceland (app. 10 Jews) and Harbin, China (currently 1 Jew, down from a high of 13,000 in 1899) are covered in detail.

In all, 120 scholars have contributed to this unique encyclopedia. The essays, articles, and biographies that comprise this encyclopedia throughly examine the Jewish Diaspora from a myriad of academic fields and viewpoints, including ethnography, demography, philosophy, history, culture, science, music, literature, business, politics, religion, and current affairs. Each essay is followed by a selected bibliography which can be used as a guide for further study. The text is further enhanced by the inclusion of an assortment of maps and illustrations, as well as by a detailed glossary of concepts, themes, names, places, people, and organizations.

The hundreds of essays and articles contained in the three-volume Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, represents one of the most comprehensive and detailed overviews of the historical and contemporary significance of the Jewish Diaspora in the realm of the Jewish experiences as well as in the realm of world history. This volume is an essential resource that should be in every Jewish and secular academic library as well as public libraries. Both scholars and general readers alike will find these essays to be accessible and informative. I highly recommend the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora to anyone with an interest in the history, culture, and significance of the Jewish Diaspora, both in the past and in the present day.

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