Esor Ben-Sorek

Back to Yiddish…. Now to Polish

A few days ago I had a lovely e-mail message from an American Jew, Saul Chapnick, an avid reader of the TIMES OF ISRAEL and one who responds and offers intelligent comments to particular articles.

He recently returned from a very exciting International Conference on the Yiddish Language held in Czernowitz from 6-10 of August.

It was an historic conference, the first one held since the first conference in Czernowitz in 1908. Now, 110 years later, scholars of Yiddish language and culture have returned to the original site in efforts to revive spoken and literary Yiddish.

Mr. Chapnick, a devotee of Yiddish as “mamaloshen”, kvelled (rejoiced) at the Conference which was attended by Jewish scholars and Yiddish speakers from around the world who came to the Ukraine..

In his lengthy and interesting message to me, he shared his experiences in Poland, following the Conference. He mentioned in it that he and his wife were giving thought to moving to Poland and to participate in the revival of Judaism in that country.

I was astounded and replied to him “how can a Jew go to live in Poland, a country whose soil is soaked in Jewish blood?”

His reply fascinated me. He described several meetings with young Jewish and non-Jewish Poles who were enthusiastic about the birth of new Jewish vitality in the country. He visited in Warsaw’s Nozyk synagogue which is attended mainly by younger Jews rather than by elderly worshippers.

In conversations which he had with the New –York born Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, the Rabbi explained in great detail the positive changes which were taking place in Poland, the support of the Polish government for the preservation of 800 years of Jewish life and culture in Poland, and the enthusiasm of the younger generation of Polish Jews seeking a return to their roots.

Interestingly, he spoke of the many non-Jewish young Poles who have developed an attraction to Judaism, perhaps some claiming a past Jewish lineage.

Mr. Chapnick was very enthused with his many meetings and conversations in Poland.

His desire to move from his home in America to Poland is based upon his strong wish to contribute to the growth of the Jewish revival throughout the country.

I don’t know if he speaks Polish… jesli nie dzisiaj, moze jutro… but if not today, he will speak it by tomorrow.

Saul Chapnick is a devoted Jew, an intellectual who responds not only from his Yiddish brain but also from his very warm Jewish heart. If he and his wife do eventually move to Poland, I am assured that he will make a unique contribution to Jewish religious and literary culture there.

Younger Poles, he told me, are thirsty for more contact with Jewish culture and history. In Krakow, once a major center of Jewish life in Poland, he witnessed intense interest by them. Many are seeking their Jewish roots. Non-Jews married to Jews want to better understand the religion and culture of their spouses.

I have read Saul Chapnick’s delightful message to me twice, each time very much impressed with him.

I wish him great success, happiness and fulfillment in the new life that awaits him in Poland.

Niech Bog blogoslawi jego wysilki sukcesem. May God bless his efforts with success.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.