Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry

Volume 11: Aspects and Experiences of Religion
Edited by Antony Polonsky

The eleven core essays in this volume consider aspects of hasidism and the mitnagdic tradition; the impact of Haskalah and Reform; liturgical and social characteristics of the more modern synagogues in Warsaw, Lódz, and Lwów; Hillel Zeitlin's response to Zionism and modern philosophy; and present-day contacts of Bobower hasidim with Bobowa in Poland. The New Views section covers eleven other areas of Polish-Jewish studies, and there is an extensive Book Review section.

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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, Lódz, and Lwów 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.


About the editor

Antony Polonsky is Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Chief Historian of the Permanent Collection of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw.


Shraga Bar Sella, teacher and researcher, Oranim, University of Haifa
Adam Bartosz, Director of Museums, Tarnów
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
Anna Clarke
Alexander Guterman
Louis Jacobs, Rabbi, New London Synagogue; Visiting Professor, University College London
Anna Landau-Czajka, Historical Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences
Józef Lewandowski, historian
Shaul Magid, Assistant Professor, Jewish Theological Seminary, New York
Alina Margolis-Edelman, paediatrician
Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Lecturer in Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Harry Rabinowicz, London
Shimon Redlich, Professor of Modern History, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva
Ira Robinson, Professor of Judaic Studies and Chair of the Department of Religion, Concordia University, Montreal
Shaul Stampfer, Lecturer in Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Krzysztof Stefanski, Technical High School, Lódz
Janusz Tazbir, Professor, Historical Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences
Jerzy Tomaszewski, Professor, Institute of Political Science, and Head, Mordecai Anieliewicz Research Center on the History of the Jews in Poland, University of Warsaw
Bernard Wasserstein, formerly President, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Józef Wróbel, Institute of Polish Philology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków


Note on Transliteration , Names, and Place-Names


Part I On Religion: Aspects and Experiences
Hasidic Yeshivot in Inter-war Poland SHAUL STAMPFER
Tobacco and the Hasidim LOUIS JACOBS
'A Thread of Blue': Rabbi Gershon Henoch Leiner of Radzyn and his Search for Continuity in Response to Modernity SHAUL MAGID
The Tarler rebbe of Lodz and his Medical Practice: Towards a History of Hasidic Life in Pre-First World War Poland IRA ROBINSON
Aaron Menaham Mendel Guterman, the rebbe of Radzymin HARRY RABINOWICZ
A Pilgrimage from Bobowa to Bobowa ADAM BARTOSZ
On the Brink of Disaster: Hillel Zeitlin's Struggle for Jewish Survival in Poland SHRAGA BAR SELLA
The Congregation of the Great Synagogue in Warsaw: Its Changing Social Composition and Ideological Affiliations ALEXANDER GUTERMAN
The Progressive Synagogue in Lwów JULIAN J. BUSSGANG
The Synagogues of Lódz KRZYSZTOF STEFANSKI
Part II New Views
Conspiracy Theories and the Reception of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Poland JANUSZ TAZBIR
Polish Influences on British Policy regarding Jewish Rescue Efforts in Poland, 1939-1945 BERNARD WASSERSTEIN
The Concerns of an Immigrant Rabbi: The Life and Sermons of Rabbi Moshe Shimon Sivitz KIMMY CAPLAN
Trunk's Poyln: Its Place in Jewish-Polish History ANNA CLARKE
Jewish-Ukrainian Relations in Inter-war Poland as reflected in Some Ukrainian Publications SHIMON REDLICH
Jewish Martyrdom in the Works of Adolf Rudnicki JOZEF WROBEL
The Jewish Question in Poland: Views Expressed in the Catholic Press between the Two World Wars ANNA LANDAU-CZAJKA
Part III Book Reviews
History, Experience, and Democracy. Istvan Bibó Revisited: The Jewish Question after 1944-Fifty Years Later ROBERT BRAUN
The Realm of Shadows: Recent Writing on the Holocaust MICHAEL BURLEIGH
Polish History through the Eyes of Three Jewish Popular Historians JERZY TOMASZEWSKI
A New Account of the 'March Events' JOZEF LEWANDOWSKI