Mapping Urban Cafés and Modern Jewish Culture

About the Project

Transnational Jewish modernity was born in the cafe:
This project examines the confluence between cafés, the urban environment, and the creativity of multilingual Jewish diasporic communities and uncovers a network of interconnected cafés that were central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization. Explore all cafés or consider how culture traveled between urban centers like Vienna, Odessa, Warsaw, Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York City.

Sites of Otherness:

The institution of the coffeehouse was imported from the Ottoman Empire, and became increasingly popular all over Europe. But in spite of taking root in various cities, both the coffeehouse and the drinks that were consumed there originated far from the local soil. This “otherness,” and the mix of the national and transnational characteristics of the coffeehouse, helps to explain why many cafés in the nineteenth and twentieth century were owned by Jews, why Jews became their most devoted habitués, and how cafés became associated with Jewishness.

Anchors in a silk road of modern Jewish culture

This project is based on research done to write A Rich Brew: How Cafes Created Modern Jewish Culture. Like the book, this project shows how modern Jewish culture was nourished in cafes and sent out into the world of print, politics, literature, visual arts and theater. In this way, what was experienced and created in the space of the coffeehouse influenced thousands who read, saw, and imbibed a modern culture that redefined what it means to be a Jew in the world.

For further introduction, listen to a podcast with Prof. Shachar Pinsker


This page references: