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Highlights from the Jewish Historical Institute

The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute/Zydowski Instytut Historyczny (JHI/ZIH) in Warsaw is the largest depository of Jewish-related archival documents, books, journals and museum objects in Poland. It holds the unique Ringelblum Archive, also known as the Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto. The Archive is listed on to the UNESCO Memory of the World register.

Kabbalah Unveiled title page and image
Kabbalah Denudata (Kabbalah Unveiled), 17th century book about Kabbala by Christian Knorr von Rosenroth (1636–1689), a German Christian Hebraist and Cabalist. Click image to enlarge.

The aims of the Institute are to preserve its holdings, to give wide access, to educate. The principal fields of activity include collections’ care, exhibitions, scholarly research, conferences and seminars as well as education, including courses for young adults and teachers. JHI is also involved in scholarly supervision of the historical sites and monuments conservation and in publishing the JHI Quarterly, books, catalogues and educational materials.

Jewish Ceremonial
Jewish ceremonial and customs, ed. Paul Christian Kirchner, Nuremberg, 1736. Early book with engravings.

JHI’s Central Jewish Library holds an exceptional collection of books, documents, prints and journals, which are invaluable sources for scholarly research. This collection demonstrates that despite the Holocaust, Polish Jews not only survived but also succeeded in preserving their culture. Joining Europeana provides an opportunity to disseminate the knowledge of Jewish history to new audiences and to establish more international research contacts. The collections are curated by the JHI researchers and its Digitization Department.

print of the Eye Hospital in Wroclaw
Jewish Eye Hospital, Wroclaw 1901.

Digital collections published in Europeana

Among the data recently integrated in Europeana via the AthenaPlus project are the JHI collections of early books from the 16th-18th century from European presses active in this period in Italy, Germany and Poland. They include religious, secular and scientific literature, mainly in Hebrew and Yiddish. There are also manuscripts of sermons, commentaries and studies of Judaism as well as handwritten copies of books on similar themes.

The historic archive of the Jewish Community of Wroclaw spans the period from 1755-1944 and contains documents relating to its membership, marriage records, community council, communal hospital, library and other organizations. There is also a collection of correspondence from the Prague Jewish Community archive and from other Jewish communities.

Jewish Community Council Candidates
A list of candidates for the Jewish Community Council in Lubien in central Poland, dated 15.5.1931, gives their names, age and occupations (incl. shopkeepers, bakers, butchers and tailors). Click image to enlarge.
detail of painting by A Markowicz
A Jew at Work by Artur Markowicz (1872-1934), an artist who lived in Cracow and painted landscapes and scenes of traditional life of Polish Jews, mainly in pastels and oils. JHI collection.

Particularly poignant is the collection of Death Records from the Warsaw Ghetto from the period before the liquidation of the ghetto in 1943. The 9463 individual cards that have been preserved represent approximately one-tenth of death records in that period.

The collections are in Polish, German, Yiddish, Hebrew and other languages.

Editor: Lena Stanley-Clamp, European Association for Jewish Culture, London
with contributions from the AthenaPlus project; Center for Jewish-Moroccan Culture, Brussels; Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw;
JDC Archives, New York; YIVO Institute, NY; Leo Baeck Institute, NY. | Contact us | Subscribe to Judaica Europeana Newsletter
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