Virtual Event: Adam TellerRescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century

What are the long-lasting consequences of refugee crises? How can one attempt to fully grasp the transnational fate of those displaced in the chaos of wars? What can we do to alleviate the suffering?

Join Adam Teller (Brown University), in conversation with Jonathan Karp (SUNY Binghamton) and the Center for Jewish History, about the untold story of the 17th-century Jewish refugee crisis which spread from war-torn Poland-Lithuania through the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Europe— its social-cultural, economic, and cultural consequences, and the ways Jewish society responded to it. Whether by raising money to ransom those Jews put up for sale on the slave markets or adopting new social and religious forms to help relieve the suffering of those who had undergone traumatic experiences, 17th-century Jewish society exerted itself mightily to help the refugees and presents us with new ways to think about refugee issues.

The conversation celebrates Adam Teller’s new book, Rescue the Surviving Souls: The Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century. You can purchase the book at a 30% discount with free shipping by using this link and the discount code CJH30-FG Offer valid through July 17, 2020.

Ticket Info: Free; reservation required at or 800-838-3006 to receive a link to the Zoom event

About the Book

A refugee crisis of huge proportions erupted as a result of the mid-seventeenth-century wars in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tens of thousands of Jews fled their homes, or were captured and trafficked across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rescue the Surviving Souls is the first book to examine this horrific moment of displacement and flight, and to assess its social, economic, religious, cultural, and psychological consequences. Drawing on a wealth of primary sources in twelve languages, Adam Teller traces the entire course of the crisis, shedding fresh light on the refugee experience and the various relief strategies developed by the major Jewish centers of the day.

Teller pays particular attention to those thousands of Jews sent for sale on the slave markets of Istanbul and the extensive transregional Jewish economic network that coalesced to ransom them. He also explores how Jewish communities rallied to support the refugees in central and western Europe, as well as in Poland-Lithuania, doing everything possible to help them overcome their traumatic experiences and rebuild their lives.

Rescue the Surviving Souls offers an intimate study of an international refugee crisis, from outbreak to resolution, that is profoundly relevant today.

Adam Teller is professor of history and Judaic studies at Brown University. He is the author of Money, Power, and Influence in Eighteenth-Century Lithuania: The Jews on the Radziwiłł Estates.