Categorically Jewish, Distinctly Polish

BookCategorically Jewish, Distinctly Polish

Categorically Jewish, Distinctly Polish

Polish Jewish History Reflected and Refracted

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


March 16th, 2022

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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).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Abbreviations16
Note on Transliteration17
Note on Place Names18
Part 1: Historiography62
1. A New Scholarly Foundation: The Historiography of Polish Jewry since 194566
2. The Verdict of Israeli Historiography on Hasidism90
3. POLIN: The Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the New Polish Jewish Metahistory128
Part 2: Jews and other Poles150
4. Jewish Perceptions of Persecution and Powerlessness in the Commonwealth154
5. A Minority Views the Majority Jewish Attitudes towards the Commonwealth and Interaction with Poles165
6. Dubno in the Wake of Khmelnytsky176
7. The Question of the Jews in the Constitution of the Third of May192
Part 3: The Jewish Community204
8. Jewish Autonomy in Poland and the Polish Regime208
9. The Authority of the Council of Four Lands Outside Poland–Lithuania226
10. The Indebtedness of the Lublin Kahal in the Eighteenth Century253
11. Everyday Violence in Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth272
12. The Image of Poland as a Torah Centre after 1648283
Part 4: Women298
13. History of Jewish Women in the Commonwealth I: An Assessment302
14. History of Jewish Women in the Commonwealth II: From Facilitation to Participation335
15. Leah Horowitz’s Tkhine imohos: A Proto-Feminist Demand to Increase Jewish Women’s Religious Capital352
Part 5: Hasidism380
16. The Rise of Hasidism384
17. Międzybóż and Rabbi Israel Ba’al Shem Tov408
18. Stories that Changed History: The Unique Career of Shivhei habesht423
19. Hasidism as a Modern Phenomenon451
Conclusion: Theme Decoding462