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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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Rachel Ertel. Le Shtetl. La bourgade juive de Pologne de la tradition a la modenité. Paris: Payot. 1982. Pp. 321.

Rachel Ertel. Le Shtetl. La bourgade juive de Pologne de la tradition a la modenité. Paris: Payot. 1982. Pp. 321.

Chapter:
Rachel Ertel. Le Shtetl. La bourgade juive de Pologne de la tradition a la modenité. Paris: Payot. 1982. Pp. 321.
Source:
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 1
Author(s):

Władysław T. Bartoszewski

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113171.003.0054

This chapter focuses on Rachel Ertel's Le Shtetl (1982). One of the most unusual characteristics of Poland as compared with other European countries, was a large Jewish presence in villages and townlets. In the inter-war period, approximately 30 per cent of Jews lived in such settlements. These settlements, shtetlekh, were fascinating centres of Jewish life and culture, and places of daily contacts between Jews and Christian Poles. It is therefore surprising how few books on the shtetl have been published. Hence, one welcomes every publication dealing with this important aspect of Jewish life before the Holocaust. Unfortunately, the work of Rachel Ertel does not fulfil expectations. The author, who teaches American and Jewish civilization in Paris, attempts to show the evolution of shtetlekh from tradition to modernity. The first quarter of the book is an historical summary of Jewish life in Poland from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century. This is based on secondary material only, much of which is quite old. The history of Jews in Poland is treated in total isolation from Polish history, about which the author knows precious little.

Keywords:   Rachel Ertel, Poland, Jewish presence, shtetlekh, Jewish life, Jewish culture, Jews, Christian Poles, shtetl, Polish history

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