Shavei Israel Holds Talmud Seminar for Polish ‘Hidden Jews’

Jerusalem, July 30, 2012: Over 40 Jews from Poland will participate in a seminar organized by Shavei Israel in Lublin, Poland, which will be dedicated entirely to the study of Talmud. The gathering, which opens today and concludes Thursday, will be held at the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva and will coincide with the completion of the Daf Yomi daily cycle of Talmud study which was launched by the yeshiva’s founder more than 80 years ago.

“The symbolism of this seminar and its location are especially poignant,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund, adding that, “The Germans and their collaborators sought to snuff out Jewish life and learning. But nearly seven decades after the Holocaust, Jews are once again studying the Talmud at Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin.” Freund also noted that, “Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, an increasing number of young Poles have begun rediscovering their Jewish roots and expressing a desire to draw closer to Israel and the Jewish people. It is incumbent upon us to reach out to them and help them to do so.”

The Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva was founded in 1930 by the late Rabbi Meir Shapiro, who introduced the revolutionary idea of ‘Daf Yomi’ to the Jewish world. The practice is a daily regimen of study covering the entire Babylonian Talmud, completed one day at a time in a cycle of seven and a half years, a practice that has had resounding success and which continues today.

A group of Jews from abroad who have taken part in the Daf Yomi will be completing the cycle at the same time as the Shavei Israel seminar, which is being led by Rabbi Boaz Pash, Shavei Israel’s emissary to Krakow who serves as the city’s Chief Rabbi.

This is not the first big Daf Yomi event to be held at the former yeshiva. The Conference of European Rabbis and Polish Jewish community organized an event in 2005, at the close of the last cycle.

In addition, there was a big “Daf Yomi” festival in Lublin in 2009, organized by the Warsaw/Lublin Jewish community and the city itself.

When the Nazis took Lublin in 1939, they closed the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, stripped the interior and burned the Yeshiva’s library in the town square. The Nazis then used the building for the regional headquarters of the German Military Police. In 2003, the building was returned to the Jewish community, restored by the Warsaw Jewish Community (with local resources) and reopened in February 2007.

Update: an earlier version of this article contained no reference to the 2005 or 2009 events.