Jews. Poland. Autobiography series issues vols. III i IV

Two new volumes in the series Jews.Poland.Autobiography released in February, 2020.

The Oldest Diaries of Jews from Cracow, the third volume in the series, contains two of the earliest memoirs penned by Jews associated with Cracow, both translated from Hebrew, and both dating back to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the seventeenth century. Together they constitute a volume that is of special value as a literary and historical source.

The Scroll of Rabbi Meir, translated and critically edited by Leszek Kwiatkowski, is the story of the abduction of a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy. Travelling from Moravia to Cracow, Meir ben Yeḥiel was kidnapped by a Polish nobleman. His account of the episode is full of understatement and conundrums, the clarification of which required detective-like research. It also provides fascinating insights into the issues surrounding coexistence between Jewish and non-Jewish people at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

The Scroll of Enmity, translated and critically edited by Agata Paluch, was written by Yom Tov Lipmann Heller, one of the most important rabbis of Central and Eastern Europe during the Thirty Years’ War and the Khmelnytsky uprising. The scroll describes how he was framed and thrown into prison, and his subsequent travails until he ended up filling the post the rabbinate of Krakow. In this autobiographical text, Heller depicts his era from the perspective of a member of the traditional Jewish elite.

The fourth volume of the series is a continuation of Yekhezkl Kotik’s memoirs, translated from Yiddish and critically edited by Agata Reibach. The author, encouraged by the success of the first part, quickly published the second, taking his readers on a further journey through the cities and towns of the nineteenth century Pale of Settlement. Far from being idyllic or sentimental, Kotik’s account of his later life is marked by pessimism and a strong sense of defeat as he repeatedly failed in his wandering search for a decent occupation.

Historyczna wiarygodność i dokładność jego przedstawień jest w tomie drugim większa niż w pierwszym, co czyni ze Wspomnień Kotika jedyny w swoim rodzaju dokument historyczny.

The fifth volume in the series will be released soon. Estera Rachela Kamińska’s Derner un blumen in the original Yiddish [Boso wsród róż i czerń or Barefoot through Thorns and Flowers] is the memoir of the “mother of Jewish theater,” translated and edited by Mirosław Bułat.

Read more about the volumes on the series website here.