Categorically Jewish, Distinctly Polish

BookCategorically Jewish, Distinctly Polish

Categorically Jewish, Distinctly Polish

Polish Jewish History Reflected and Refracted

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


June 1st, 2022





Moshe Rosman's revolutionary approach has become a cornerstone of Polish Jewish historiography. Challenging conventions, he asserts that the 'marriage of convenience' between the Jews and the Polish--Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dynamic relationship that, though punctuated by crisis and persecution, developed into a saga of overall achievement and stability.
With that fundamental message this book forges a thematic survey of Jewish history in early modern Poland. These essays, written by Rosman over the course of a distinguished career, have all been updated and enhanced with new detail and nuanced arguments, taking account not only of new archival material and research but also of the ongoing evolution of the author’s own knowledge and perspectives. Some appear here in English for the first time.
The volume's structure highlights key topics for understanding the Polish Jewish past: relations between Jews and other Poles; Jewish communal life; Polish Jewish women; and hasidism. One section analyses how this past has been presented in both scholarly and popular modes. The essays are crafted to place them in dialogue with each other. Analytical introductions weigh their significance in the light of modern and postmodern Jewish and Polish historiography. An extensive general introduction sets the context of the history portrayed here, while a thoughtful conclusion elucidates the larger motifs that emerge.

'This is a book I myself would want!'
Antony Polonsky, author of the three-volume History of the Jews in Poland and Russia

'The pieces . . . are all of high quality, and bringing them together fills the need for a book that can supplement existing narrative histories, especially for graduate students who need to learn not only the history but the historiography of the subject. The inclusion of pieces that have not previously appeared in English is a real contribution.'
David Engel, New York University

Author Information

Moshe Rosman is Professor Emeritus of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He has taught and held fellowships at many universities in Europe and the United States, published several prize-winning books, and received an honorary doctorate and prestigious awards, most recently the Rothschild Prize in Jewish Studies (2020).