Thoughts from Poland: Part 5

July 14, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Ramah, Rav Moshe Isserles, is probably the most famous and important figure to have lived in Krakow. Born in 1530 to a wealthy family, the name Isserles is a reference to his father, Isser or Yisrael. (As Shaul Stampfer and others have aptly demonstrated in discussing 19th century Lithuanian society, it was generally the wealthy who became Torah scholars, as the poor did not have the resources to obtain the top teachers for their...
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Thoughts from Poland: Shabbat in Krakow

July 13, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Shabbat in Krakow. A city of glory, like almost no other in Jewish history. The Jewish quarter dates from the 16th century and is actually known as Kazimierz. Today, it is part of Krakow, but originally was an island just next to Krakow where Jews were welcomed after being expelled from Krakow in 1495.  Krakow was teeming with Jews over Shabbat. Within just a few hundred yards, there are seven functioning (in some capacity) shuls,...
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Poland Thoughts: Part Three

July 12, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
For Jews, Poland was as close to Gan Eden in exile as one could get. It was referred to by Jews as Po lin, "here we rest" in tranquility waiting for the arrival of Mashiach. It was also known as Po lan yah, "here G-d rests", as He accompanied His people to this wonderful galut. Tragically, all this changed overnight. While we associate Poland with the death camps and view the...
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Poland Thoughts: Part Two

July 09, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Travelling in Poland is emotionally moving and exhilarating at the same time. In the morning after minyan, Rabbi Michael Shudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, spoke to our group. He immediately began by addressing the question of why Jews live in Poland today, and by extension, why a rabbi would move from America and spend his working life in Poland. The short answer is that while 90% of the Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, 10% or some...
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Some Thoughts from Poland

July 08, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  "Eino domeh shmiah l'rei'ah, one cannot compare hearing to seeing". I write these words at the end of our first day of the TiM trip to Poland. Seeing what I have spent a lifetime learning about offers a new and deeper perspective.   When we hear Poland, our instinctive reaction is to think about the Holocaust and the murder of 3 million, 90% of Polish Jewry. Many people told me that they would not...
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