For Poles it was Malopolska Wschodnia, Eastern Little Poland, or the kresy, the borderlands. It had been part of the Polish realm since 1386. Polish poets wrote odes to the kresy. This land was not—never would be—anything other than Polish. For Ukrainians it was Halychyna, but not Ostgalizien, Eastern Galicia, not a part of Poland. They had lived here for a thousand years; they had always constituted the majority of the population; their prince had founded the town of Halych for which the land was named. Its destiny was to be united with the “greater Ukraine” across the border. Jews had lived in Galicia for half a millennium; they had a religion and a language—in fact, two languages—of their own, but their relation to the land was more ambiguous, the choices more difficult.
Read More → The Center for Jewish History opened officially in October of 2000. It embodies a partnership of five major institutions of Jewish scholarship, history and art: the American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The Center serves the world- wide academic and general communities with combined holdings of approximately 100 million archival documents, a half million books, and thousands of photographs, artifacts, paintings and textiles—the largest repository documenting the Jewish experience outside of Israel.
Read More → The full title of the book is To Galicia: Of Chasidim, Huzules, Poles and Ruthenians: An imaginary journey through the vanished world of Eastern Galicia and Bukovina. (Ruthenians and Huzules are basically Ukrainians.) It describes an imagined trip, mainly by railroad, around the turn of the last century, from Tarnow to Lemberg (I’m using place names as they appear in the book) via Przemysl, Drohobycz, Stryj, Stanislau, Zabie, Kolomea, Czernowitz, Brody and places in between. A quick look at the map will show you that this is far from a linear journey, involving as it does various side trips. For each waypoint, the author draws on contemporaneous accounts for lyrical and (sometimes) not so lyrical descriptions of the lives of Jews, Poles and Ukrainians. The overall impression is of “a rich land of poor people” (in the words of the title of another book by the same author). Among the poorest of these poor people are the majority of its Jewish population.
Read More →