Historian Warns That Time is Running out for Preserving the History of Polish Jewry

A noted Israeli historian and rector of Tel Aviv University warned here this week that time is rapidly running out for the research and preservation of the 1,000-year history of Polish Jewry due to the lack of interest and procrastination on the part of the present aging generation of Polish Jewish survivors.

“The present decade may well provide the last chance to preserve for future generations a knowledge of the history of what was the most culturally flourishing Jewish community in the diaspora,” Prof. Shlomo Simonson told a meeting of the Federation of Polish Jews of America, one of the joint sponsors of the Center for the Study of Polish Jewry at Tel Aviv University Simonson is visiting the United States on behalf of the Center which he chairs.

Simonson, who emigrated to Israel from Germany in 1933, deplored what he termed the “comparatively little interest shown by the average Israeli student in the history of Jewry outside Israel.” He cautioned that unless something is done quickly to reverse this situation “we will contribute to breaking the continuity of Jewish historical education and will have little to hand over in this field to future generations.”

Kalman Sultanik, president of the Federation and a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, who presided at the meeting, stressed the “challenging monumental task for historians and scholars in delving into the 1,000-year-old history of Polish Jewry” and the “everlasting contribution of Polish Jewry to every facet of Judaism — secular and religious — and the particular role it played in the growth of modern Zionism.”

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