Upcoming Events

Jewish Identities of Women Psychoanalysts Who Fled Nazi Europe to the United States

April 4, 2022 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Stewart Room and Online
3041 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
Ian Rees

On Monday, 4 April 2022, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm, please join us for a presentation and Q&A with Dr. Klara Naszkowska for a presentation titled “Jewish Identities of Women Psychoanalysts Who Fled Nazi Europe to the United States,” which will focus on Dr. Naszkowska’s work researching Jewish women pioneers in psychoanalysis, and how their Jewish identities influenced their work and circumstances. Attendees are invited to join in person or virtually. This event is sponsored by Union’s Psychology and Religion Program and the Program in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies at Jewish Theological Seminary.

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The forced migration of the Jewish people from Europe to the United States in 1933-1941 is one of the most significant phenomena in twentieth–century intellectual history. However, close to nothing has been written on Jewish female psychoanalysts swept in that immigration wave. In the first part of the lecture, I will introduce this understudied diaspora of almost eighty Jewish women analysts who fled Hitler to the US, where they became “essential workers” in mental-health care when America joined World War II. I will discuss their personal and professional biographies including family and religious backgrounds, education and career patterns, experiences of exile and (non)belonging, their relationships with the past, and the construction of national, spiritual and cultural identities, with a special attention to Jewish identity. The second part of the lecture will be devoted to the unique case of Judith S. Kestenberg, who, differently from her colleagues, tried to work through the losses and traumas caused by the emigration, war, and the Shoah. I will examine her complex, multilayered identity of a Jewish women raised in an Orthodox home, Pole, Galitzianer, a New Woman, refuge, trauma survivor, daughter of Holocaust victims, non-citizen in the US, “essential worker”, wife, mother, and more. The lecture is based on a research project that prioritizes personal accounts, with a special focus on Oral History.

Klara Naszkowska, PhD. is a Cultural and Personal Historian with research interests in Jewish Women and Gender Studies, Immigration Studies, Memory Studies, and Oral Histories. Most currently, in her position of a Postdoctoral Visiting Scholar at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) and at the Center for Jewish History (CJH), she has been researching and writing a book devoted to Jewish women who fled the Nazis to the United States in 1933-1941 where they served as “essential workers” in mental-health care. In an effort to reclaim and reconstruct their personal and professional biographies, and of permitting their voices be heard, she has given the priority to personal accounts of said women, with a special focus on oral histories. 

Dr. Naszkowska holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Edinburgh, and an M.A. in Polish Literary Studies from the University of Warsaw. As a 2019/2020 Fulbright Visiting Scholar at UTS she worked on a research project devoted to an oppressed and understudied Jewish psychoanalyst, Sabina Spielrein. She is also the Founding Director of the International Association for Spielrein Studies. As the head of the scientific and organizational committee, she is putting together an international conference “Sabina Spielrein and the Early Female Pioneers of Psychoanalysis,” on April 10, 2022.