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Tag: Jewish life in Poland

Rabbi Samuel Mohilever – toward ‘the gates of hope’

Over the last 15 years of his life, Rabbi Samuel Mohylewer worked and taught in Białystok. He argued that Jews should have their own homeland, like other nations awakening in the late 19th century. He wanted the Jewish state to be established in Palestine as the fulfilment of prophecies and Jewish activism. Rabbi Mohylewer advocated secular knowledge, urged his people to learn foreign languages, and supported business, especially agricultural activity. Thus, along with rabbi Kalischer from Toruń, he is considered one of the patrons of religious Zionism. The building of the synagogue named after him still stands in Białystok today, although precious little reminds us of its onetime significance. Perhaps one day soon the city will begin its plans to restore the site to central importance in Białystok.

December 15, 2021 - Jarosław Kociszewski Philip Earl Steele

Menachem Begin – a Pole “born in Jerusalem”

Menachem Begin never practised law, though he graduated from the University of Warsaw's Law Department in 1935. However, the unyielding attitude he acquired in Poland never left him. He insisted that Jews must fight for their own state, and not wait for it, trusting others. His militancy aroused controversy and opposition even among activists politically close to him. And yet it was none other than Menachem Begin who went on to forge peace with Egypt in 1978, an accomplishment that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

December 14, 2021 - Jarosław Kociszewski Philip Earl Steele

Rabbi Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer from Toruń – Proactive Messianist

Everyone has heard of the great astronomer from Toruń - namely, Copernicus. However, another great man from Toruń, Rabbi Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer, is virtually forgotten even in the city where he lived and worked in the 19th century. Rabbi Kalischer wrote the work of 1862 "Derishat Tsiyon", which laid the religious foundation for the return of the Jews to Palestine. The way toward the fulfillment of this positive, messianic vision did not rest with awaiting a miracle, but with persistent work. This is why the outstanding rabbi from Toruń enjoys a central place in the history of contemporary Israel.

December 13, 2021 - Jarosław Kociszewski Philip Earl Steele

David Gordon from Ełk – one of the Three Greats of early Zionism

The construction of the railway in the middle of the 19th century was the beginning of revolutionary changes in Elk. It also enabled the development of the first Hebrew magazine in Europe, Ha-magid. One of its creators was David Gordon, a prominent journalist who made a great contribution to the development of the language of the future state of Israel. The publishing house at the Ełk synagogue gave birth to words which still describe the contemporary world.

December 10, 2021 - Jarosław Kociszewski Philip Earl Steele

Nahum Sokolow – “The world’s most important Jew”

Nahum Sokolow played knights in front of the synagogue in Wyszogród. He received a scholarship in Płock to develop his outstanding intelligence and would later go on to negotiate the return of the Jews to Palestine with the pope and the heads of the great powers of the beginning of the 20th century. He wrote thousands of articles and dozens of books and even invented the name Tel Aviv. However, he never stopped thinking and writing in Polish, and in his home the term 'płocczanin' (someone from Płock) was always uttered with a sense of pride.

December 6, 2021 - Jarosław Kociszewski Philip Earl Steele

There is a portal to Israel in Poland. The Jewish State was conceived on the Płonka River

David Ben-Gurion, one of the founders and the first prime minister of Israel, was born and grew up in Płońsk. Here, by the Płonka River, together with his friends, he was dreaming about the Jewish state.

November 10, 2021 - Jarosław Kociszewski Philip Earl Steele

What was a hundred years ago will not return

Interview with Miriam Synger, director of the Emuna Foundation, which supports the Jewish community in Łódź. Interviewer: Daniel Gleichgewicht.

May 23, 2019 - Daniel Gleichgewicht Miriam Synger

Nurturing a Jewish revival in Poland

An interview with Shana Penn, executive director of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture. Interviewer: Daniel Gleichgewicht

DANIEL GLEICHGEWICHT: You have worked in support of Jewish cultural revitalisation in Poland for many years now. How would you describe the way Jewish life in Poland has changed over this time?

The end of state socialism in 1989 made it possible to reimagine Poland as a place where Jews might live openly, in relative freedom and security. The options were manifold, drawing from the cultural vibrancy that once made Poland the centre of the Jewish world, to one’s exposure to Jewish life in the US, Israel or other parts of Europe, to the extension of one’s own Jewish upbringing in Poland.

March 4, 2019 - Daniel Gleichgewicht Shana Penn

There are just too few of us

A conversation with Konstanty Gebert, Polish journalist and Jewish activist. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

MAXIM RUST: You have been helping to build Jewish life in Poland for decades now. If you were to assess what were the main changes that have taken place in this regard since the collapse of communism in 1989, what would you say they were? What were the achievements and what were the failures?

KONSTANTY GEBERT: Actually, the biggest change that has taken place is that that we now do have Jewish life in Poland. It erupted suddenly right after communism fell in 1989, after the long decline of the few officially sanctioned organisations which existed under communism. Since the early phase of the transformation, new Jewish organisations, initiatives and clubs began to emerge. Naturally, along with them also came disputes and quarrels.

March 4, 2019 - Konstanty Gebert Maxim Rust

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