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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 1Poles and Jews: Renewing the Dialogue$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113171

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113171.001.0001

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The Changes in the Attitude of Polish Society Toward the Jews in the 18th Century

The Changes in the Attitude of Polish Society Toward the Jews in the 18th Century

(p.35) The Changes in the Attitude of Polish Society Toward the Jews in the 18th Century
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 1

Jacob Goldberg

Liverpool University Press

This chapter evaluates the changes in the attitude of Polish society toward the Jews in the 18th century. The transformations in the social structure, politics and culture of 18th-century Poland had their impact upon the evolution of the predominant attitudes of Polish society towards the Jews. The large numbers of the latter constituted in the second half of the century the largest concentration of Jews in the world. They amounted to about ten per cent of the country's population, which means that their numbers roughly equalled those of the szlachta. This is why in the last century of the Commonwealth's existence, the demographic factor determined Polish attitudes towards the Jews far more than ever before. However, the growth in the demographic potential of the Jewish population coincided with the impact of the ideas of the Enlightenment, with the result that the two factors compounded one another in rendering all problems concerning the Jews highly visible and in considerably influencing the designs for social and political reforms at the time of the Four-Year Diet.

Keywords:   Polish society, Jews, Poland, szlachta, Polish Commonwealth, Jewish population, Enlightenment, Four-Year Diet

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