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The trail of ethnic minorities – the Jews

Synagogues, cemeteries and memorials to the murdered are the most visible, but not the only, remains of the Carpathian Jews… The Jewish minority, which has been present in the Małopolska region since the Middle Ages and which has settled down in large numbers under charters confirmed by successive Polish rulers since the 18th Century, could not but leave its mark on the local culture and economy. read more

Synagogues, cemeteries and memorials to the murdered Jews are the most visible, but not the only, remains of the Carpathian Jews… The Jewish minority, which has been present in Małopolska since the Middle Ages, and which has settled down in large numbers under charters confirmed by the successive Polish rulers since the 18th Century, could not but leave its mark on the local culture and economy. It is to the Jews that we owe popular regional products such as śliwowica łącka (a plum brandy made traditionally in the region of Łącko in  Małopolska), and bobbin laces, traditionally made in the Bobowa village in Małopolska. To this day, the figure of a Jew features in traditional folk ceremonies. Bobowa, Grybów and Gorlice, which are places connected with the cult of Tzadiks, still attract Hasidic pilgrims from all over the world. Nowy Sącz, where the famous Hasidic Rebbe Chaim Halberstam lived, is recognised by them as a holy town.

The Jews, who were brought to the cities and towns enfeebled by wars and natural disasters in order to revive their declining trade, quickly dominated Nowy Sącz. It caused aversion, even hostility on the part of the non-Jews. The most serious anti-Jewish riots for economic reasons broke out in the cities and villages in the Nowy Sącz County in June 1898, when Jewish shops and houses were plundered.

In the Nowy Sącz County a bigger part of the Jewish community lived in the cities. The greatest number of the Jews lived in Nowy Sącz, Bobowa and Grybów. They constituted over 1/3 of the residents. Smaller communities of Israelites were in Muszyna, Stary Sącz, Krynica and Piwniczna. In the villages in the Nowy Sącz County there lived a few Jewish families at most. In these places where there were the most Jews, the communities were organised and synagogues, schools, mikvehs and cemeteries were established.

For the Poles, Ruthenians and Germans living next to the Jews, they seemed different and strange. The different character of the Jewish culture, mainly in terms of religion and language, made it impossible to get to know them and understand them, and also contributed to the emergence of stereotypes.


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