The Ukrainian Jewry Research Initiative



Dr. Judith Kalik: 

Dr. Alex Valdman:

About the Project 


The project studies the history and culture of Jews in the Ukrainian lands from ancient times to the present, through the innovative lens of distinguishing the Ukrainian Jewish community as a subject of study in its own right, rather than as a subsumed part of the monolith of “Soviet Jewry”. The project seeks to build scholarly collaboration in Israel and abroad in order to encourage comprehensive academic research on the Ukrainian Jewish community that will enrich the field of study. 

This project was made possible by the generous funding provided by the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine and the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, as well as the generous support of Prof. Milette Shamir, the Vice President of International Academic Affairs, and TAU International.


The Role of the Jews in the Rise and Fall of the Propination System in Ukraine, 1569–1897

Researcher: Dr. Judith Kalik


Dr. Kalik’s research aims to show the unique peculiarities of the Jewish existence in multinational and multi-religious Ukraine through the examination of the central role of Jews in the production and sale of alcohol – the so-called propination system. Based on extensive and systematic archival research (poll-tax lists, census lists, eviction lists, etc.), the project will examine such central issues as relations between Jews and Orthodox priests against the background of their competition for rural leaseholds; the cooperation of Jews and Cossacks in the liquor trade in Left-bank Ukraine; the impact of the duration of rural leaseholds on the spread of the Hassidic movement; and the causes for the decline of the propination system during the course of the nineteenth century.



“An Interaction of the Rural Jews with Different Social Strata in the 16th–18th Centuries Polish-Lithuanian Village”, Jewish History Quarterly 273 (2020), pp. 49–68.


Forthcoming Publications

“An Impact of Regional and Other Differences in Forms of Rural Lease-Holdings Before and After Partitions”, The Jewish Tavern: From Architecture to Phantasm, ed. Bożena Shallcross.


“Personal Composition of the Council of Four Lands”, Polin 34, 2022, pp. 129-162.


Alexander Kulik and Judith Kalik, “The Beginnings of Polish Jewry: Reevaluating the Evidence for the Eleventh to Fourteenth Centuries”, Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 70, 2021, pp. 139-185.



“Jews of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before the Partitions: Main Directions of Research”, SEFER Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, Moscow, June 6, 2021.


Railroads, Locality and Modernity in Ukrainian Jewish History, 1861–1917

Researcher: Dr. Alex Valdman


Dr. Valdman's research focuses on the Jews’ interactions with the emerging railroad network in order to present a new, contextualized perspective on questions of social mobility, traditionalism, acculturation, and Antisemitism.


As part of the project, Dr. Valdman collects and examines archival sources depicting the integration of railroads into Jewish life in the Ukrainian provinces of the Pale of Settlement and scrutinize publicist and other representations of railroads in contexts of progress, westernization, and modernization. Dr. Valdman will address the following main questions:

1. The role of the railroad – as an idea and as a reality – in Jewish and broader Imperial discourses of modernization;

2. The railroads’ role in the creation of Jewish and Imperial “provinciality”;

3. The new urban transportation – especially the steam and electric tramway systems in Kiev, Odessa, and other localities – and its possible influence on patterns of Jewish urbanization and urban culture.    

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