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Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 6, 1979     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 6, 1979

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HERITAGE, Flodda Jewish News, Apdl 6, 1979 Page 9 A Realistic Look At Pre-War Poland's Jewry The stereotyped image of pre-World War II East European Jewry as poverty-stricken and physically distinctive is a misleading one, writes CA THERINE ROSENHEIMER at an exhibition of photographs of Polish Jews. From TIE JERUSALEM POST STla)F.NT NURSES study at the student residence in the School of Nursing, Jewish Hospital, Warsaw, 1937. i il  rrudn thoroughfare of the Warsaw Ghetto, photographed by Roman Vishnlac in 1938.At right, David Ben.Gurlon, second from right, photographed during a expected Jews in Poland most common reaction last month at museum of Diaspora the four hundred of the Jews in you will find the from the , and pale-faced many aspects of Polish from the average plenty of Jewish the Maccabee motorcycling teams them in Israel today. in sh politicians; quarter of Warsaw just before World War II show that the majority of. passers-by are assimilated in appearance - clean shaven, heads uncovered, hair cut short, and dressed according to contemporary fashion. The exhibition, "Image Before My Eyes," was prepared by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York. The year 1864 was chosen for the start of the exhibit because, quite simply, that is the date of the oldest photo in Y1VO's archives. It stops at September 1, 1939, which is when the Nazis marched into Poland. Linda Ossad, a graduate scholar in Jewish studies, and Y1VO's public relations officer, explains that the exhibition's aim was to deal with pre-Holocaust life in Poland, a period about which most people have avery distorted view. "Travelling with the exhibition has given me something that graduate school couldn't," says linda, who finds it highly satisfying to see visitors' reactions reflecting her own excitemenL to observe them "leaming about a wodd they would never otherwise have seen. Their own nostalgia is generally very inaccurate." "1 think the reason for the exhibition's success is that it is unique, and it shows aspects of Jewish life they never knew existed. For anybody with an Eastern European background, and a large percentage of visItors to the exhibition have one, it is a Jewish 'Roots' -- only It proves that not all Eastern European Jews were poverty-scken and Orthodox. There was a large proportion of Jews who belonged to a very assimilated middle class, and even a number of very upper class, wealthy and aristocratic Jewish families -- the 'Rothchilds' of Poland." Beth Hatefutsoth's curator, Shaike Weinberg, was instrumental in acquiring the photographs, which will be on display for six months. As far as YIVO are concerned, the exhibition on the Jews of Poland' is probably only the first of several, each of which will concentrate on a cfferent East-European country and will be culled from the institute's vast number of still unclassified material. Fily, for those who continue to believe that all Jews in Poland were poverty-stricken and hungry, here is the menu of a banquet served at the wedding of a member of the Hirszowk:z family in 1903. The owners of one of the largest pdntJng companies in Warsaw, they treated their guests to the following: "Rhine salmon in mayonnaise and tartar sauce. Fillet of beef in mushroom sauce Bouillon and Pastries Capon-Turkey-Chicken-Squab and Duck Compote ltalienne Bombe Mwdcaine Dessert -- Coffee -- Liqueurs." The most lavish of Polish weddings at the Tel Aviv Hilton, in ] 979, would surely find it hardto compete with this. to tell the boys at the club about...] %y's Auto RepairJ  (;;::::lnA:t nRePuprM ot or R eb uildin g ll 11 Specializing in Auto Electric Starters, e'T- II_  Generators., , o2Z "o; ,,o 834-5082