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By Heiko Haumann

The origins and lifetime of East eu Jewry took on new ancient and political significance after the Holocaust. In Poland by myself ninety nine according to cent of Polish Jews 3 million in all have been killed; Yiddish as a spoken language roughly disappeared. This quantity offers a heritage of East ecu Jewry from its beginnings to the interval after the Holocaust. It offers an outline of the demographic, political, socioeconomic, spiritual and cultural stipulations of Jewish groups in Poland, Russia, Bohemia and Moravia.Interesting topics contain the tale of early settlers, the 'Golden Age', the impression of the Kabbalah and Hasidism. vibrant snap shots of Jewish kin existence and non secular customs make the booklet relaxing to learn.

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The Kabbala (Hebrew for 'tradition') had been active in Judaism for a long time and can by no means, as is usually the case, be described as a purely mystical movement. In its strict relationship to religion and religious laws, and in its particular kind of philosophy, thoroughly rationalistic elements are discernible which are bound up with mystical influences. The Kabbala received its first systematization in the Middle Ages, above all in German Hasidism. 4 Philosophy was part of Jewish folk culture.

In Western Europe this would not have been possible at that time. Only after the intensification of the Counter-Reformation did this situation change. A body of early enlightenment thought may be found in the rabbinical literature. It is therefore not surprising that Jews also played an important role in the secular sciences grounded in reason and sought to bring them into harmony with faith. The Jewish community in Poland yielded a number of important figures, particularly in mathematics, mechanics, astronomy, and medicine.

THE JEWS AS INTERMEDIARIES BETWEEN TOWN AND COUNTRY By the seventeenth century the Jews had managed to obtain for themselves a unique position in Poland not only in culture, but also in the economic and social spheres. They took up the role of intermediary between town and countryside. "9 In Poland, however, they exercised a virtual monopoly, and even its concrete ex- A HISTORY OF EAST EUROPEAN JEWS pression marked out its exceptional nature. As already mentioned, the richer Jews often invested their profits in leases, which they then subleased to poorer family members: taxes, customs duties, road tolls, milling, distilleries, breweries, and taverns, even estates.

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