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Warsaw’s New Museum of History of Polish Jews a “Daring Enterprise”

Bar Ilan University’s Moshe Rosman consulted on new institution

By: David Shear
Published: April 4th, 2013 in News » World
Museum of History of Polish Jews

Despite a relatively common misperception that paints Poland as the original – and an enduring - home to anti-Semitsm, Moshe Rosman disagrees.

And Rosman should know.

The professor of Jewish history in the Koschitzky Department of Jewish History at Bar Ilan University, in Ramat Gan, Israel, Rosman is a renowned specialist in the history of Jews in Poland-Lithuania prior to 1800, as well as modern Jewish history.

Recently Rosman was a consultant to Warsaw’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, slated to open this year.

According to Rosman, this new and impressive museum, which received extensive financial and political support from the Polish government signals a new attitude when it comes to Polish history; that Poland is actually a “commonwealth of many nations,” and that Poland’s Jewish history is an important component of that new philosophy.

“Among Polish intellectuals, this new metahistory (big story) is broadly accepted,” Rosman said in a recent interview he gave to the Jewish Herald-Voice. “The business and intellectual elite, those who shape the direction of society, are eager to change the image of anti-Semitism. Poland is probably the most pro-Israel country in Europe. This is a byproduct of the search for the real authentic model of the new Poland. That model is of a multicultural, democrat, economically vibrant part of the West.

“When I first came to Poland in 1978 as a doctoral student,” said Rosman, “I would meet other young Polish historians and scholars. They would say, ‘I see Jewish cemeteries and former synagogues. The Jewishness of Poland must have been pervasive. So, this is something the communists are holding out on. At the same time, they would go to the West and introduce themselves as Poles. The response would be, ‘You’re an anti-Semite.’ They didn’t understand that reaction. So, this new Jewish museum is many things. It symbolizes the new Poland. It changes Poland’s image, vis-à-vis the Jews. It is expected to be a tourist attraction.”

Not coincidentally, the new museum, which Rosman calls “a daring enterprise,” will open its doors on April 19, the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

“The museum is that impressive. It will be the last word in museumology,” says Rosman. “Tremendous resources have been invested. They’ve been working on the core exhibit, alone, for the last five years. They are trying to do it right. Of course, they have paid me as a consultant. But, the reason I agreed to be a consultant is because I think they are trying to do it right.”

Related articles: Poland, Warsaw, Museum, Bar Ilan University, Moshe Rosman,
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