Jewish society in Poland-Lithuania in the second half of the eighteenth century was by no means insular: Jews numbered about 750,000, and comprised about half the urban population of the country. The contact between Jews and the wider Polish society found expression in the languages Jews knew, in their marriage patterns, even in their synagogue architecture and decoration, but also in Polish accusations of Jewish ritual murder. All these aspects are here systematically reviewed. Internal factors influencing developments within Jewish society are discussed: treatments of the medieval rabbinic ban on polygamy, as well as various influences of the growing interest in kabbalah-its impact on synagogue structure, on prayer, and on the spiritual world of women. The growth of hasidism is considered through critical analysis of the legends about its founder, Israel Ba'al Shem Tov. This wealth of topics helps to fill the gaps in our understanding of Jewish life in this important period. The New Views section of the volume incorporates valuable studies on other topics.
Articles include a revisionist view of the beginnings of Polish Jewry, based on analysis of medieval manuscripts; a thought-provoking review of the depiction of Polish-Jewish relations in recent Polish cinema; a study of the NKVD's treatment of Henryk Erlich and Wiktor Alter; and an erudite study of mayufes as a window on Polish-Jewish relations. The Book Reviews section includes a debate between Tomasz Gasowski and Artur Eisenbach on the latter's book on Jewish emancipation in Poland; review essays of books on Auschwitz and on I. B. Singer; and twenty-seven individual book reviews, followed by a bibliography of Polish-Jewish studies for 1994. The contemporary state of Polish-Jewish relations is covered, along with additional aspects of Jewish life in today's Poland, in an article by Poland's Ambassador to the Jewish Diaspora, Krzysztof Sliwinski. CONTRIBUTORS Paul Coates, Artur Eisenbach, Tomasz Gasowski, Jacob Goldberg, Zenon Guldon, Thomas C. Hubka, Gertrud Pickhan, Elchanan Reiner, Moshe Rosman, Chone Shmeruk, Krzysztof Sliwinski, Daniel Stone, Israel M. Ta-Shma, Nechama Tec, Chava Weissler, Elimelech Westreich, Jacek Wijacka