New Interpretations in Polish-Jewish Studies
Problematizing the “Jewish Turn”
What I call the “Jewish turn”1 refers to the revival of Jewish communities in Poland – both religious and secular2 – as well as the phenomenal interest of non-Jewish Poles in all things Jewish. From the commercial success of klezmer music; the proliferation of Judaica bookstores and Jewish-style restaurants; the opening of new museums, memorials, and memory spaces; the growing engagement of artists and public intellectuals with Poland’s Jewish past and Polish-Jewish relations more broadly; and the emergence of Jewish studies programs at multiple universities.3 Last but not least is the relatively small but not insignificant number of conversions to Judaism, often from people who discover Jewish roots and feel compelled to “return to the source,” but sometimes from Poles without Jewish ancestry yet called or seduced by the appeal of Judaism.4 This brief essay seeks to problematize the Jewish turn by discussing some of its significations and identifying the challenges it poses.
The Jewish Turn as Polish Problématique
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