Jewish Galicia (1772-1918): Vibrant Past Re-Discovered
Presented by Andrew Zalewski
*Please note that this is a Tuesday meeting
Galicia: Vibrant Past Rediscovered brings to life the Jewish community of Galicia. Decades of Habsburg rule were both stifling and inspiring — the new imperial laws dealing with Jewish marriages, adoption of surnames, access to education, and military service came at a dizzying pace and touched the lives of all Galician Jews. In parallel, sweeping ideas of Jewish Enlightenment kept challenging the norms of the day from within the community. Biting satires by a new generation of cultural rebels were often met with condemnation and counterattack by traditionalists. As never before Galician Jews were confronted with a dilemma of many linguistic, lifestyle, and identity choices. Their community emerged alive and diverse: the voices of simple men and professionals, pious traditionalists and reformers, dwellers of shetls and cities are heard in this narrative. In this contested land, erupting tensions among Poles, Ukrainians and Jews mixed with wise compromises that kept Galicia’s citizens together.
Based on expanded research to Andrew Zalewski’s book Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, this presentation is illustrated by old pictures, historical documents, and archival maps of Galicia. The speaker’s discoveries about his own family are intertwined with a broader historical context. Time after time we will find our own preconceived notions about the past challenged.