When did the Warsaw Jews begin to represent all Jewish communities in Poland?

Zofia Borzymińska

Jewish Historical Institute

Until World War II the Warsaw Jewish community was the second largest in the world and their kehila was one of the most significant anywhere.  This kehila was also one of the youngest in this country.

From the 16th century Warsaw had a policy de non tolerandis Judaeis and the Jews could not settle down here and form a kehila. However, at the time of the seyms they had liberty to stay in the city and trade there. On such occasions numerous Jews from many cities and towns came to Warsaw and when the session was over, they came back to their shtot and shtetls. But some of them remained in the city; in practice their permanent presence was tolerated.

At the end of the 18th century, at the time of the Four-Year Seym (Parliament) (1788-1792), Warsaw Jews started to represent Polish Jews in general, although there was no formally recognised kehila. Why it was possible? What happened to make that so?

This lecture will try to find answers based on historical documents and contemporary historical studies.

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