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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 14Focusing on Jews in the Polish Borderlands$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774693

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774693.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

The Self-Perception of Lithuanian–Belarusian Jewry in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

The Self-Perception of Lithuanian–Belarusian Jewry in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Chapter:
The Self-Perception of Lithuanian–Belarusian Jewry in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 14
Author(s):

Vital Zajka

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774693.003.0002

This chapter examines the Lithuanian–Belarusian Jewry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. From the earliest times of their settlement in the easternmost Slavonic and Baltic territories, the Jews have been aware of their special status, first as discoverers of lands beyond the limits of the Jewish world of that time, and then as a distinct part of that world. Potential economic and social opportunities and freedom of religious practice and self-government, combined with the benevolence of rulers and the relative tolerance of the surrounding population, gave rise to the distinctiveness of Lithuanian–Belarusian Jews in relation to the rest of Ashkenaz. The term ‘Lithuanian–Belarusian Jewry’ refers to the Jews who lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, including the protectorate of Kurland, after the Union of Lublin in 1569. In Yiddish, the land was referred to as ‘Liteh’ and its Jews referred to themselves as ‘Litvaks’. Jewish Liteh also included the region of Podlasie that became a part of the Polish crown territories (the ethnically Polish part of the Commonwealth) as a result of the Union of Lublin.

Keywords:   Lithuanian–Belarusian Jewry, Liteh, Litvaks, European Jews, historical boundaries, self-perception, Jewish Lithuania

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