Remembering How They Lived


Having been in Warsaw in 2005, I had no desire to re-visit. This week’s opening of the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews makes me reconsider.

Jewish Polish history dates back to the 10th century. By the 15th century, Jewish populations existed in nearly 100 settlements contributing to both secular and religious culture. 70% of Ashkenazi Jews (myself included) can trace our roots back to this historic Polish territory.

The World Jewish Congress puts the present-day Jewish population of Poland at a conservative 5,000. When I was there in 2005, Poles were still quite uncomfortable disclosing their Jewish connections.

The Museum’s opening coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the most extensive Jewish revolt of the Second World War. The museum’s striking entrance of sand-colored walls symbolizes the parting of the Red Sea. Throughout this year there will be a host of temporary exhibitions and cultural events including a complete authentically constructed wooden synagogue. When the entire museum is opened some time next year we will discover everything there is to know about the 1,000-year Jewish presence in Poland.

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