Neighbours: Relations between Jews and non-Jews throughout History

In 2001, Polish-American historian Jan T. Gross published a controversial monograph entitled Neighbours in which he described the destruction of the Jewish community in the Polish city of Jedwabne at the hands of the local Polish population. The term neighbour became synonymous with the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the non-Jewish locals. Relations between Jews and non-Jews throughout history are often depicted as full of prejudice, mistrust, violence, pogroms and murder. Authors often debate the impossibility of a beneficial multicultural and multiethnic coexistence between the Jewish and non-Jewish locals. They also conjecture that it was this impossibility of coexistence that ultimately led to the collapse of the European Jewish world in the twentieth century, but also to the subsequent complicated establishment of the Jews in other parts of the world. However, looking at the history of the Jewish people all over the world, we also need to consider the benefits of the coexistence between the Jews and other people. The moments of crisis were often followed by centuries of peaceful coexistence, where interactions between communities led to political, cultural and spiritual developments and improvements. The Jews and their neighbours maintained close relations, influenced each other and created bonds that beneficially shaped the lives of both communities throughout the centuries.

Since antiquity the Jews have lived side by side with other peoples. With the geographic dispersion of the Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple and their gradual settlement in Europe, Asia, Africa and later in the ‘New World’, the interactions between the Jews and other communities invariably increased. The purpose of the conference is to convene scholars who are involved in academic research of Jewish/non-Jewish (however defined) relations throughout the centuries. We intend to offer a multifaceted perspective on the lives of the Jews and their rich interactions with their neighbours all over the world.

We welcome papers that address the issue of Jewish coexistence with other peoples from diverse perspectives, including:

  • Interactions between the Jews and non-Jews throughout centuries
  • Ancient Israel and its neighbours
  • Cultural and spiritual interactions between the Jews and other communities
  • Influence of other communities on Jewish languages
  • Impact of Jews and Judaism on other communities
  • Impact of other communities on Jews and Judaism
  • Judaism and other religious communities
  • Jewish communities and their neighbours in the modern era
  • Modern Israel and its neighbours
  • Violence in Jewish history
  • Representation of Jews and their neighbours in film and literature
  • Proposals for special sessions (roundtables, film screenings or discussions of new book releases) will also be considered.

 Papers on other topics will be considered but preference will be given to those bearing directly on the conference theme.

Please submit your paper proposal by 1 September 2014 to Dr Jan Láníček via email The Subject of the message should be ‘AAJS UNSW 2015 Proposal’ (All applicants will be informed about the decision by 31 October 2014).

Submissions must include the following:

  • Applicant’s full name and institutional affiliation
  • Postal and email address
  • Abstract of the paper to be presented (no more than 250 words)
  • Short biographical note (no more than 50 words).

AAJS encourages students engaged in academic research to submit proposals based on their work to the conference committee. Authors should clearly indicate their student status on their submission.

Presenters are also invited to submit written articles for consideration for publication in the Australian Journal for Jewish Studies.

Communication about the conference should be sent electronically to Dr Jan Láníček, email:

Conference Committee

  • Dr Jan Láníček, Conference Convener
  • Dr Michael Abrahams-Sprod, AAJS President
  • Professor Suzanne Rutland OAM
  • Michael Misrachi
  • Dr Avril Alba
  • Dr Myer Samra
  • Dr Miriam Munz
  • Neta Steigrad
  • Anna Rosenbaum
  • Professor Ghil‘ad Zuckermann

As this Conference addresses a small community of scholars, it is imperative that we all support the Association. Thus, it is a requirement that all presenters at this conference must have paid the conference registration fee, which includes the AAJS membership for 2014, by 10 January 2015. Visit for details.