Polish Jews

‘This Is About How Rich The Culture Was'

Filmmaker Péter Forgács re-orchestrates the poignant home movies taken by Polish-American Jews returning to the Old Country.

10/28/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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The faces look out at you, some shy, some defiant, some amused, some even downright playful. They are men and women, children and the elderly. It’s the late-1920s, the 1930s, these are Jews living in the Poland of the late-1920s and ’30, and although neither they nor the American citizens filming them know it, they are doomed. The images bespeak a flourishing culture, but by the end of the Second World War, 90 percent of Polish Jews will have been murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices.

The movies in “Letters to Afar” were filmed in such Polish shtetls as Kaluszyn and Kolbuszowa. Courtesy of YIVO Archive

Shechita Controversy Has Wider Implications

08/20/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Warsaw — No matter the outcome of the current controversy over the Polish Parliament’s attempt to ban ritual slaughter — Jews and Muslims might end up losing the right to kill animals according to their respective religious traditions — the issue has symbolic and practical value both for Poland’s small Jewish community and for Jews in other countries.

Konstanty Gebert

Polish Jews: This Land Is Our Land

To read the recent headlines from what most Americans blithely refer to as Eastern Europe -- an expanse of territory that more accurately is Central and Northern and Southern and parts bordering on Western Europe -- one might think that the cauldron of Nazi-era anti-Semitism is boiling over again.

A Hungarian legislator invoking the centuries-old blood libel accusation. Neglect of a small Jewish cemetery in the former Yugoslavia. Restaurant patrons in Ukraine who get hats with attached side curls that mock payot.

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