When Cyclists, Zionists, Schoolgirls, and Catholic Seminarians Came to Visit Poland’s Largest Yeshiva

Best remembered today for establishing the seven-year cycle of daily Talmud study known as daf yomi, Rabbi Meir Shapira (1887-1933) also founded the Yeshiva of the Sages Lublin, which, far more than other, older East European centers of learning, resembled a modern educational institution—even located in a large, new building with dormitories and cafeteria. The yeshiva attracted a regular stream of visitors, ranging from scions of ḥasidic rabbinic dynasties to Jesuit seminarians. Thanks to a partially preserved guestbook, Wojciech Tworek has mined some information about them:

[The] visitors include merchants, a physician, and various organized groups. After all, burgeoning Jewish tourism was becoming an important way of spending leisure time. . . . [The organized] groups include a cyclist club, “Marathon,” whose members made it all the way to Lublin from Warsaw, almost 125 miles.

Other groups, often very remote from the ideology and worldview of the [yeshiva], also used trips there as an educational opportunity. Among these groups were members of the right-wing Revisionist Zionist youth movement Beitar; 59 students from a competing institution, the [religious Zionist] Warsaw Taḥkemoni rabbinical seminary; students from Lublin’s school for children with special needs; and 90 girls from a nearby public elementary school—rather unthinkable in today’s ḥasidic yeshivas with their strict standards of modesty and rigorous separation between sexes.

A few words are due about a visit paid by the “Astrea” student fraternity active at the Catholic University of Lublin. While the inscription in the book gives only the date of their visit and the number of visitors (twenty), the students shared their impressions several days later in Głos lubelski, the mouthpiece of the Lublin chapter of the right-wing nationalist National Democracy party. The article “Z wędrówek po Lublinie” (“From wandering around Lublin”), shows that the trip was not intended to open up young Catholic minds, but to confirm their long-harbored prejudice.

These students were not the only non-Jews visiting the yeshiva. Indeed, the guestbook demonstrates that it was a fairly popular destination among priests and seminary students. It is fascinating to see that in the mid-thirties, when rampant and violent anti-Semitism was on the rise in Poland and the Catholic Church was one of the antagonizing factors, the worlds of yeshiva students and Christian clergymen could meet.

Read more at In geveb

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jewish-Christian relations, Polish Jewry, Yeshiva


Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship