Professor Natan Meir, Sam Johnson Memorial Lecture 2021: Drafting the Undesirables: Jewish Conscription to the Imperial Russian Military under Nicholas I – 15 December 2021

This year’s Sam Johnson Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Professor Natan Meir on 15 December, 5pm.

In 1827, Nicholas I signed a draft decree requiring Jewish communities to select recruits for twenty-five-year terms of service in the tsarist army. Under this brutal conscription regime, some Jewish communal leaders attempted to draw recruits solely from among socially marginal people such as beggars and the religiously lax or drafted poor orphans as so-called voluntary substitutes for the sons of prosperous families.

This talk examines this tragic chapter in East European Jewish history through the lens of archival documents and Yiddish folksongs.

Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Professor of Judaic Studies in the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University. A scholar of the social, cultural, and religious history of East European Jewry, he is the author of Kiev, Jewish Metropolis: A History, 1859-1914 (2010) and Stepchildren of the Shtetl: The Destitute, Disabled, and Mad of Jewish Eastern Europe, 1800-1939 (2020). He also serves as a museum consultant and leads study tours of Eastern Europe with Ayelet Tours.

For questions or further information pleas contact:

Professor Catherine Fletcher – or Haseeb Khan –

The Sam Johnson memorial lecture takes place each year in commemoration of our late colleague, Sam Johnson.

Sign up here.

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