Tuesday, April 20th at 6 pm Israel time: A JOURNEY OF JEWISH KRAKOW WITH ITS HISTORY, SITES AND STORIES OF FAMOUS FIGURES, Monika Prylińska and Tomasz Klimek


During this virtual journey, we will discover a diverse and extremely rich heritage of Jewish Krakow following the most important facts from over one thousand years of the Jewish presence in Poland. We will follow the paths of fascinating personalities that had a huge impact on the Jewish culture of Krakow. We will tell you why and when Ashkenazi Jews came to the city and which language they spoke, how and why many Jewish traditions changed between medieval ages and modern times, what happened with the Jewish community during difficult and complicated Polish history, and where it is possible to find Jewish traces nowadays. Eventually, we will go deeper into the revival of the Jewish culture of Krakow after the communist times and nowadays.


Monika Prylinska holds a PhD in Geography at the University of Lodz and MA degrees in Judaic Studies and Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. She is a university lecturer, licensed city guide of Krakow, tour leader and writer. Her teaching and research focus on Jewish culture in Poland, the anti-discrimination policy of democratic societies and non-fiction literature. For over ten years, Dr Prylinska has worked with Jewish groups in Poland and has run Jewish educational workshops for Polish students and adults. She cooperated as a guide and educator with the Polin Jewish Museum in Warsaw. Currently, she participates in oral history workshops of second generation Jewish writer and psychologist Mikołaj Grynberg and studies Gestalt psychology.


Tomasz Klimek holds an MA in management from the Technical University in Kraków. He is also a scholarship holder at the University of Rochester, USA. Additionally, he completed training in Jewish culture organized by professors of Judaic studies at the Galicja Museum in Krakow. For fifteen years, as a guide of Krakow and tour leader, he has been working with Jewish groups in Poland, implementing tailor-made cultural programs, searching for Jewish roots and organizing meetings with Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Tomasz also conducts workshops on Jewish culture and history for Polish teenagers, students and adults increasing among them awareness and richness of Jewish heritage.

Wednesday, April 28 at 6 pm Israel time: THE POPES AND THE JEWS: AN AMBIVALENT RELATIONSHIP, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller

Throughout the Middle Ages, the policies of the Church toward the Jews rested on three consistent principles: the promotion of Christian salvation, the enhancement of the Church as both a spiritual and a worldly institution, and the Jews' fulfillment through conversion, of their soteriological role. The tension between anxiety and the determination to live alongside the Jews was constantly challenged and by the early modern period, the scales were tilting towards segregation and restriction. Our lecture will study this ambivalent relationship between the Pope and the Jews, through the Middle Ages, the early modern period and bring it up to date to the present time. The Papal state once cut across the centre of Italy from Ancona to Terracina, spreading over eight provinces. The Romagna; the town and county of Bologna; the March of Ancona; the Duchy of Spoleto; the patrimony of St. Peter in Tuscany; the Campagna and Marittima; the town and territory of Benevento; and beyond the Alps, the Comtat Venaissin in Provence. Our lecture will take a look at some of these locations, discuss the Jews' relationships with the various popes and end with the "hot" question under debate at present - as Pope Francis has finally opened the papal archives to scholars - how do we explain the silence of Pope Pius XII regarding the Jews' extermination during the holocaust?

Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. She is the author of Jews on Trial: The Papal Inquisition in Modena 1598-1638 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), the co-editor of The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries (Leiden: Brill, 2018) and many other articles on the Catholic Inquisition, anti-semitism and the Jews of Italy. She is now finishing a book called "Christian Images and Jewish Desecrators: The History of an Allegation," 400-1700." Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy and the ones we were planning to Alsace and Provence.



The lecture will explore the rich history of the Jews of Dalmatia (the region of the Eastern Adriatic coast, today in Croatia), from the early Christian era until today. It will focus mainly on two rival port cities: Split and Dubrovnik/Ragusa and the role the two respective Jewish communities played in this rivalry. With the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in 1492, the influx of Sephardic expulses to both cities reshaped totally the original Jewish communities of Dubrovnik and Split. While the Dubrovnik synagogue was established by the Romaniote community in the 14th century, and was later taken over by the Sephardim, the present-day synagogue of Split was established in the early-16th century by Sephardic new-comers which settled in the northwest quarter of Split. There they established their synagogue, right next to the western wall of Diocletian’s Imperial Palace (the Torah actually sits inside the Roman wall).  The lecture will be accompanied by vivid visual materials from historic sites in the beautiful cities of Split and Dubrovnik, illustrating the two-millennial heritage of Dalmatian Jews.

Dr. Eliezer Papo is senior lecturer at the Hebrew Literature Department at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a Chairman of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture at the same University and the chief-editor of El Prezente – Journal for Sephardic Studies (scientific journal published by the Gaon Center). Dr. Papo also serves as the President of Sefarad – Society for Sephardic Studies, an international professional association of scientist in the field of Sephardic studies. He is a member of the Israeli National Academy for Ladino and serves also as a representative of the Israeli Academia in the Council of the National Authority for Ladino Culture, where he is also a member of the executive board. Besides a B.A. in law (University of Sarajevo), M.A. in Jewish languages and literatures (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and a Ph.D. in Hebrew literature (BGU), Dr Papo also holds a degree in rabbinics (Midrash Sepharadi in Jerusalem). Since 1997, he serves as the non-residential rabbi of the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most importantly, Eliezer has been our Scholar in Residence with a number of our tours to the Balkans, Morocco and Greece.