Jewish life in Poland was marked by a high degree of religious intensity. The core of essays in this volume addresses some aspects of that religious and spiritual life, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Within the sphere of normative Jewish belief and practice, two rival traditions emerged in Poland: that of hasidism, which focused on prayer as a means of direct communication with God and that of its mitnagdic opponents, who placed greater emphasis on learning and the interpretation of canonical texts. Different aspects of the hasidic tradition are here examined by Louis Jacobs, Shaul Magid, Harry Rabinowicz, Ira Robinson, and Shaul Stampfer. Adam Bartosz describes present-day contacts between Bobower hasidism in New York and Bobowa in Poland, while Kimmy Caplan investigates how a rabbi trained in the mitnagdic tradition in Lithuania adapted to the very different conditions of the United States.
Alongside the normative traditions, the nineteenth century saw attempts to modify Jewish religious practice on the lines advocated by the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) in Germany and to adapt it to the spirit of the age. Characteristics of the more modern synagogues in Warsaw, Lodz, and Lwow are investigated by Alexander Guterman, Krzysztof Stefanski, and Julian Bussgang; the attempt by Hillel Zeitlin to reinterpret those traditions in the inter-war years, taking into account the emergence of the Jewish national movement and modern philosophical developments, is described by Shraga Bar Sella.
In the New Views section, Bernard Wasserstein investigates Polish influences on British policy towards Jewish rescue efforts in Poland during the Second World War; Janusz Tazbir examines the reception of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Poland; and Anna Clarke describes the life and work of Jehiel Isaiah Trunk. Other topics in this section include Jewish-Ukrainian relations in interwar Poland as reflected in the Ukrainian press; the work of the Jewish writer Adolf Rudnicki; and views expressed on the Jewish question in the Catholic press in Poland between the two world wars. The volume also contains an extensive Book Review section.
Shraga Bar Sella, teacher and researcher, Oranim, University of Haifa
Adam Bartosz, Director of Museums, Tarnow
Robert Braun, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Budapest University of Economic Sciences
Michael Burleigh, Distinguished Research Professor of History, University of Wales, Cardiff
Julian J. Bussgang
Kimmy Caplan, Harvard University
Louis Jacobs, Founding Rabbi, New London Synagogue; Visiting Professor, University College London
Anna Landau-Czajka, Historical Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences
Jozef Lewandowski, formerly Professor of History, University of Uppsala
Shaul Magid, Assistant Professor, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York
Alina Margolis-Edelman, paediatrician
Harry Rabinowicz, London
Shimon Redlich, Professor of Modern History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva
Ira Robinson, Professor of Judaic Studies and Chair, Department of Religion, Concordia University, Montreal
Shaul Stampfer, Lecturer in Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Krzysztof Stefanski, Institute for the History of Art, University of Lodz; Institute of Architecture and City Planning, Technical High School, Lodz
Janusz Tazbir, Professor, Historical Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences
Jerzy Tomaszewski, Professor, Institute of Political Science, and Head, Mordecai Anieliewicz Research Centre on the History of the Jews in Poland, University of Warsaw
Bernard Wasserstein, formerly President, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Jozef Wrobel, Institute of Polish Philology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow