Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine

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Shtetl Routes. Vestiges of Jewish cultural heritage in cross-border tourism in borderland of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine

Beta version

NN Theatre
A Tale of Two Towns

A Tale of Two Towns

The phone call from Moscow caught me by surprise. In the midst of the Revolution of Dignity, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the Kremlin anti-Ukrainian hysteria, the subject of the unfolding phone conversation seemed macabre. A certain Svetlana, documentary film director of the Lavr Film Studios in Moscow, called to make me a proposal to appear in a movie series tentatively entitled “Hollywood and the Jews.” The episodes would be filmed in Ukraine. I hardly know anything about American popular culture and the Jewish role in it and was ready to give her a polite no—but somehow the movie director pressed the right button and I agreed instead.

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In the footsteps of local photographers

In the footsteps of local photographers

The beginnings of photography in Poland date back to 1839 when the news of the daguerreotype reached the country. Photography quickly got popular, and near the end of the 19th century professional photography salons grew in numbers fast. In some towns there were even several of them. It is worthwhile to pay attention to the fact, that the photographer's profession was usually taken up by Jews. The activity of itinerant photographers was an extraordinary social phenomenon of the break of the 19th and 20th century in Poland. They travelled the province and offered their services as photographers. No documents on the topic remain, which is why their photos are the only evidence of their activity. Currently the memory of these photographers is being brought back, but many of them remain unknown or forgotten. Because of the aura of mystery and uniqueness surrounding the black-and-white prewar photographs, it is worth it to learn something about them. We kindly invite you for a journey in the footsteps of local photographers.

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In the footsteps of painters

In the footsteps of painters

In the footsteps of painters route aims to teach about a rich and diverse culture of shtetls by presenting the painters that lived there, as well as their body of work.

The route painters presents the changes in art which took place on the break of the 19th and 20th century. For a large group of painters the descent was hardly irrelevant, and throughout their artistically active years they referenced the places and circles in which they grew up. They painted townships, and alleys of Jewish streets, praying Jews and other scenes depicting the life of Jewish population. It was not a dominant theme, however. Painters conducted their own artistic searches, and many of them were influenced by various European styles and movements, especially the École de Paris circles. The majority of this artistic group came from shtetls, and some of them, thanks to their talent, hard work and determination became world-class artists contributing to the artistic environments in Paris, London or New York.

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The route of Jewish printeries

The route of Jewish printeries

We invite you to join the route tracing Jewish printeries, which were very important places for Jewish communities. Because of their extraordinary care for books, including the most import one, the Torah, for centuries Jews have been called the People of the Book. Publishing books was even called "awodat ha–kodesh", "a sacred profession". Hebrew printing houses published a Hebrew Bible with commentaries, as well as sermons, ethical and Talmudic treaties, midrashes, Jewish legal codices, and prayer books. A significant percent of the published books was Cabbalistic and Hassidic literature [1].

The beginnings of Jewish publishing on the historical Polish territories dates back to the first half of the 16th century – the oldest printing workshops were founded in Kazimierz near Kraków (1534) and in Lublin (1544–1682). Thanks to beneficial administrative decisions, favourable bishop censorship, and magnates' conviction that founding a printery brought numerous benefits (for instance increased the economic standing of the city, enabled export–oriented production, contributed to educating the residents, increased income) in the 17th and 18th centuries there appeared dozens of new publishing houses: in Biała Cerkiew, Białorożce, Bogusław, Bracław, Dubno, Dubrowno, Korets, Międzyboż, Międzyrzec, Mińkowice, Ostroh, Połonne, Poryck, Radziwiłłów, Szkłów, Sławut, Sudyłków, Zasław, and other places. Despite all of this, until the 19th century their publishing could not compete with a rich selection of books imported for the needs of the Jewish population of Poland.

The 19th century brought a significant change to that. At that time a clear breakthrough in the number of Hebrew and Yiddish publications took place, especially in the Austrian and Russian partitions.

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Yizkor book of Zhovkva

Yizkor book of Zhovkva

Sefer Zolkiew (Memorial book of Zolkiew), Editors: Nathan Michael Gelber, Y. Ben-Shem, The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora, Published: Jerusalem 1969 (H 844 columns)

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Zhovkva  - guidebook

Zhovkva - guidebook

Ukr. Жовква, Yid. זשאָלקווע

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Zhovkva - Cultural Heritage Card

Zhovkva - Cultural Heritage Card

Zhovkva is a district center in Lviv region. The city is located on the boarder of two natural regions: Roztochchia hills and Small Polissia plane which was bogged in the old times. The boarder of the natural regions coincides with the rich geological, climatic and flora and fauna boarder in Europe, near which Main European Water Divide is located. The extraordinary climatic and geographical location was chosen to build here the “ideal” Renaissance city.

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