Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

The Jews Come to Poland
History Series / Part 2

Item #: 0041

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In the 15th century, King Kasimir of Poland invited Ashkenazi Jews to settle there hoping to harness their reputed penchant for money-making. Happy to leave the inhospitable environment of Western Europe, the Jews accepted and made a pun of the name of their new host country, "Poh lin," which in Hebrew means "here we will sleep." It would take several centuries before this initial first impression proved to be a catastrophic error, but until then, Jewish life and Torah scholarship flourished so much that Poland became the foundation of Eastern European Jewry.

• "Fiddler on the Roof" nostalgia replaced with historical fact
• a no-win situation, Jews as middlemen in feudal Poland
• the great yeshivas of Cracow and Lublin
• the institutions of gabbai, shadchan, and other Jewish "jobs"

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