History of Lublin Jews
History of Lublin is inextricably linked to the life of the Jewish community, which for nearly 500 years co-shaped the character of the city, its spiritual and intellectual climate. Lublin belonged to one of the most important cities in the history of East European Jewry. For several centuries, it was an important center of Jewish studies and culture. It was a multicultural city - what formed its tradition, which as the value we bring to the uniting multicultural Europe1.
Jews in Lublin
Lublin became famous as a city of:
Jews came to Lublin, according to unconfirmed sources, already in 14th century. Since then, their presence had a long term impact on city’s culture form, education, religion and community life. Because of very high development of Jewish community, Lublin gained a title of Jerusalem of The Kingdom of Poland.
In 16th century Lublin was well known as a city of Polish Jews authonomy. A local government of this authority was Council of Four Lands (Waad Arba Aracot), established by delegates from the biggest Polish cities - Kraków, Poznań, Lwów and Lublin.
In Lublin Jews led a very active religious life. Lublin was a city of numerous synagogues and houses of prayer. Here, in 18th century unfolded an ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious movement - Hasidism, connected to such outstanding representatives as The Seer of Lublin - Yaakov Yitzhak Horowitz. Also an Orthodox community had its eminences, such as rabbi Shalom Shachna, Solomon Luria or Meir Shapiro.
Rich religious life evidently influenced the education level. In 16th century, in Lublin Talmudic Academy was established by the Maharshal Synagogue, and then, in Interwar - Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin famous across all over central Europe. Thank to these exquisite centres Lublin gained importance of Jewish Oxford.
Jewish Lubliners’ cultural life was equally rich. In Lublin, in 16th century Hebrew printing flourished. Here, for the first time Talmud tractates were printed and some of the very first Hebrew printing houses in Poland were established. Arts and crafts as well as modern art were in bloom. Some Jewish theatres were open and Jewish press prospered in Lublin. In the Interbellum period, among others, throve also political life.
World War II period brought to an end material and spiritual culture of Lublin Jewry. The Lublin region was a land assigned for being a place of “the final solution of the Jewish question”, it became a location of ghettos, transit ghettos, forced labor camps, camps of concentration (Majdanek) and extermination (Majdanek, Sobibór, Bełżec). Today it is also a place of commemoration of Jewish community presence, and of emptiness that left after they had perished.
Life of Jews, who live in Lublin nowadays, is centered around Yeshiva (Lubartowska Street 85, tel. +48 81 747 09 92) and the Chamber of Memory of the Jews of Lublin, together with operating synagogue Chewra Nosim (Lubartowska Street 8).
Preserved material traces of Jewish presence in Lublin
Among still existing material traces of Jewish presence in Lublin we can distinguish:
Compiled by Izabela Błasiak
Translated by Magdalena Dziaczkowska