Jewish Poland Revisited

Jewish Poland Revisited

Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places
Erica T. Lehrer
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/28/2013
Format: paper 296 pages, 25 b&w illus.
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-00886-2
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Honorable Mention, 2013 Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards
Finalist, 2013 National Jewish Book Awards
Since the end of Communism, Jews from around the world have visited Poland to tour Holocaust-related sites. A few venture further, seeking to learn about their own Polish roots and connect with contemporary Poles. For their part, a growing number of Poles are fascinated by all things Jewish. Erica T. Lehrer explores the intersection of Polish and Jewish memory projects in the historically Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierz in Krakow. Her own journey becomes part of the story as she demonstrates that Jews and Poles use spaces, institutions, interpersonal exchanges, and cultural representations to make sense of their historical inheritances.

Author Bio

Erica T. Lehrer is Associate Professor of History and Anthropology and Canada Research Chair in Post-Conflict Memory, Ethnography, and Museology at Concordia University, where she founded and directs the Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence.


"Since her first visit to Poland in 1990, Erica Lehrer has been exploring what might be called 'Jewish presence in Polish consciousness' in a country that was once home to the largest Jewish community in the world and now to one of the smallest. The result is a vivid ethnography and masterful analysis of Jewish heritage tourism in Poland today. Jewish Poland Revisited is a major contribution to the new anthropologies of Europe." —Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, New York University

Jewish Poland Revisited is a timely book on an important topic. Based on extensive fieldwork spanning over two decades, Lehrer’s account of 'Jewish Poland' after the Fall of Communism is rich and nuanced, highlighting the subtle reconfigurations of complex, interwoven Polish and Jewish memoryscapes. Lehrer captures the mood of Krakow’s Jewish district of Kazimierz at the crucial moment of its reinvention in the 1990s. In her vivid prose, all of the social and sensorial textures of the Jewish quarter come to life." —Geneviève Zubrzycki, University of Michigan

"Lehrer offers a fresh and delightful portrait of Jewish renewal in Poland. . . . Highly recommended." —

"The unquiet nature of Poland as a Jewish heritage place is changing rapidly, and Lehrer’s Jewish Poland Revisited is an up-to-date and detailed guide to the shifting landscape." —Canadian Jewish News

"[T]he main asset of Lehrer’s work is its huge potential and argumentative power to influence and change the prevailing . . . negative attitudes towards Poland among many people in the international Jewish community. Thanks to her work perhaps more Jews will no longer conceive Poland only as the site of Holocaust and as a widely antisemitic country, but rather as a place full of hope and future for the recognition of Polish Jewish culture, history and heritage and for the Jewish communities here." —New Eastern Europe

"Jewish Poland Revisited is appropriate for a wide readership from specialists in cultural anthropology, graduate students, and college students to well educated general audiences." —American Ethnologist

"Recommended. . ." —AJL Reviews

"[O]ne of the most nuanced and enthralling studies on Jewish space, heritage tourism, and the role that memory and identity play in the complex post-Holocaust and post-Communist Polish society. . . Jewish Poland Revisited is unequivocally an obligatory reading . . ." —H-Poland

"The result of Lehrer’s twenty years of intense engagement with Kazimierz is a tour-de-force volume as important for Jewish studies as it is for tourism studies and heritage studies." —H-SAE

"Often the history of the Jews in Poland and Polish history are written as two distinct narratives. On the one hand, this separation is necessary to accommodate the different experiences and trajectories of the historical actors. On the other, the split often provides a disjointed view of Polish-Jewish relations and lived experiences in Poland. Lehrer's book is an important point of intersection between these narratives and it highlights the problem of a Polish history lacking Jews, and the important role of Jews in Polish culture and vice versa." —Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"Jewish Poland Revisited is an important and insightful study, one that will hopefully lead to a wider range of new works devoted to Polish-Jewish relations and heritage in Cracow and beyond." —Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

"This book is of interest to a wider readership than might be suggested by its title. Not only does the work provide a detailed ethnographic monograph about Jewish heritage and tourism in Kazimierz in Kracow, Poland, but it also analyses the challenges of ethnographic research and heritage interpretation more generally. The context of Kracow, Auschwitz and Jewish heritage in Poland is, of course, by no means unfamiliar to anyone interested in the complexities of heritage interpretation in a ‘dissonant’ environment. However, Erica Lehrer provides many thought-provoking and (for some) controversial alternative narratives to the construction of Jewish culture, heritage and identities post-Holocaust." —Journal of Heritage Tourism

"In Jewish Poland Revisited, [Lehrer] excavates forgotten history and discusses surprising recent developments—including the large number of Jewish tourists coming to Poland and the growing interest among non-Jewish Poles in Jews and Judaism. . . She boldly asserts that 'Poland—the epicenter of the destruction of European Jewry—is now a key site for the regeneration, rearticulation, and redefinition not only of a local Jewish community, but of inventive, hybrid ideas of post-Holocaust Jewishness itself.'" —Jewish Book Council

"Lehrer’s monograph is a refreshing approach to the subject of Jewish Poland. As a study in tourism and heritage, the book provides an interesting addition to a growing field." —Slavic Review

"Jewish Poland Revisited is a valuable book for anyone headed to Poland-or perhaps to any 'heritage tourism' location. And because it raises profound questions about Jewish engagement with other ethnicities, I suspect it will provoke reflection even in those with no interest in leaving home." —Jewish Book World

"Honorable Mention, 2013 Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards

Finalist, 2013 National Jewish Book Awards,
Modern Jewish Thought & Experience category" —

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Scene of Arrival
Introduction: Poles and Jews: Significant Others
1. Making Sense of Place: History, Mythology, Authenticity
2. The Mission: Mass Jewish Holocaust Pilgrimage
3. The Quest: Scratching the Heart
Shabbos Goyim: Polish Stewards of Jewish Spaces
5. Traveling Tschotschkes and “Post-Jewish” Culture
6. Jewish like an Adjective: Expanding the Collective Self
Conclusion: Towards a Polish-Jewish
milieu de mémoire
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