Institute for Polish–Jewish Studies

Annual Report for the year 2004–2005


Jonathan Webber


The Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies, an associated institute of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, this year published volume 17 of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, edited by Antony Polonsky. Focusing on 'The Shtetl: Myth and Reality', it contains eighteen papers, examining the concept of the shtetl as understood in literature, history, and sociology, illustrated with case-studies from the eighteenth century onwards. The volume also includes four other papers, a documentary section on Polish-Soviet relations in the late 1940s, a special section analysing the Polish-Jewish incidents in Przytyk in 1936, a full complement of book reviews, and three obituaries. In November a one-day international conference, convened by Professor Jonathan Webber, was held to launch the volume and to discuss the shtetl not only from a historical point of view but also to explore how the lost world of the shtetl is being remembered and presented in Poland today. The conference, which was co-sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute and held at the Polish Embassy in London, was opened by a presentation given by the Polish Ambassador. Papers were then given by scholars from England and Poland; and the conference concluded with the screening of a powerful film, Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance after the Holocaust, which explores the theme of Jewish religious intolerance in the context of attitudes towards Polish Catholic rescuers of Jews in Poland during the Holocaust. The conference was full to capacity, and there was lively discussion throughout, particularly following the film.