HEBREW PRINTING HOUSES IN POLAND AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF THEIR HISTORY IN THE WORLD
Pilarczyk, Krzysztof (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)
Studia Judaica 7: 2004 nr 2(14)
The gradually recognised heritage of Jewish culture on the territory of Poland within its historical borders is beginning to demonstrate wealth that had previously passed unnoticed. Post-war studies in Poland on the history of the Jews, undertaken in the late 1970s, permit deeper insight into varying communities residing within Poland’s historical borders. Studies reveal the role played by the Jews in Poland’s then nationally, ethnically and re- ligiously diverse society. As a direct result, the identification of their legal status, economic function, religious and cultural identity as well as their fields of influence, could all be established. The knowledge acquired has shown the history of Jews in Poland; a country that provided shelter from western persecution, providing a “halt” for the wider Jewish Diaspora from the 16th century up until 1939.
Even though this may be taken as an insignificant episode, it was an important stage for Poland, which became the world’s largest centre of Jewish life, affecting and shaping other centres around it. The destruction of this epicentre of European Judaism by the Nazis during World War II does not release us from taking an effort to re- veal the achievements of the Jewish Diaspora in Poland over the ages. There is now no need to convince anybody that it has co-shaped the history of Poland, in proportion to its size and cultural potential, and therefore is and should remain a vital part of this history.