In Search of Polin

Chasing Jewish Ghosts in Today’s Poland

by Gary S. Schiff (Author)
©2012 Monographs XXI, 286 Pages


Taking a unique, multi-faceted approach to the 1,000 years of Polish Jewish history in this volume, Gary S. Schiff combines academic scholarship with his own family’s long history and his insightful travel experiences and candid observations. From its earliest medieval days, to its «golden years» in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, to its subsequent decline and Poland’s three-way partition in the eighteenth century, to its ultimate destruction in the Holocaust and its mini-revival today, the Jewish community of Poland – the world’s largest for 500 years – comes to life again.
Tracing his own family back hundreds of years, he finds that they typify Polish Jewry in its most classic setting, the shtetl or small town. Their names, occupations, family sizes, education, religious, cultural and political affiliations, lifestyle and dress, and their relationship with whatever government they happened to live under at the time (Polish, Prussian, Russian, and so on) all personified the rich and diverse world of the millions of Jews of «Polin» who are now merely ghosts, figures of memory. At the same time the rise and fall of the great Jewish communities of the cities of Poland – Cracow, Lublin, Lodz, and Warsaw – are deftly chronicled. Polish Jewry's many great personages and mass movements – influential rabbis and mystic charlatans, merchant princes and secular socialists, heroes and villains, Hassidim and Mitnagdim, Zionists and assimilationists, Yiddishists and Hebraists – are revealed with fresh insights.


XXI, 286
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2012 (September)
History Religon Politics Jews Judaism Poland Eastern Europe Anti-semitism Holocaust
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt, Oxford, Wien, 2012. XII, 286 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Gary S. Schiff (Author)

Gary S. Schiff is currently Adjunct Professor of History at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, where he has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in Jewish and Middle Eastern history for over a decade. Previously he served for fourteen years as President and Professor of Middle East Studies at Gratz College in Philadelphia, the nation's oldest non-denominational college of Jewish studies, and also taught at the City University of New York and at Yeshiva University. Holder of a Ph.D. from Columbia University and Fulbright, Ford Foundation and other prestigious fellowships, his previous books include Tradition and Politics: The Religious Parties of Israel. A leader in Jewish life in America, he has traveled extensively to Jewish communities around the world and has lectured and written widely on subjects of Jewish interest in both scholarly and popular publications.


Title: In Search of Polin