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Halbersztadt, Jerzy

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Polityka - Poland | 27/06/2007

The history of Jewish life in Poland

This week the foundation stone for the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews was laid in Warsaw - right next to the monument commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Jerzy Halbersztadt, founding director of the museum, explains in an interview with Joanna Podgorska why this museum is so important in a country which was home to 3.5 million Jews before the Holocaust. He points out that the goal is "visitors to the museum should include both Poles familiar with Jewish history, and Jewish tourists who want to see how the Poles present the Jewish legacy. Both are to meet here. They can observe each other's reactions. The museum can serve to demystify these relations... Here, they [the Jewish tourists from abroad] can see how the state of Israel has roots on the River Vistula. For two centuries the unique Jewish parliament worked here. It is here that secular Jewish life began, and here that the phenomenon of Chassidism took root and developed."

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