Chasidim and Galicia #galicia

Abraham J Heschel <binmoses@...>

In Susan Wynne's recent message titled "Przemysl" she mentions several
facts about Chasidim and Galicia. Though I have the greatest respect for
Ms. Wynne as an author and historian, I was very disappointed to note
that in a message for genealogists she chose to put in "various Hasidic
communities, even when fighting with each other, often dominated the
Jewish political scene" though historically correct, it insinuates that
inter fighting was somehow a regular occurrence, which it certainly was
not. In addition she notes that "The self governing Jewish community was
heavily controlled by Hasidim who were very rigid in their views and
interpretations of Jewish law. Deviation was tolerated very little until
after emancipation." Though this is not the place for theological
discussions, Hasidim as all religious Jews consider the Torah laws to be
based on the teachings of a Creator and thus cannot be tampered with in
any way. "Deviation" was and is still not "tolerated" by Hasidim or all
religious Jews for such toleration i.e. legitimization would be going
against the very essence of their beliefs as Jews.

This does not mean that there was an war declared by the Observant Jews
on their non observant brethren. To the contrary the Religious Jews were
the ones persecuted for their beliefs by the early reformers in many
cities to a far greater extent than the supposed lack of tolerance on the
part of the Religious Jews.

What is far more important however >from a genealogical point of view is
the rich traditions of each Chassidic group, their unity and their warmth
for each other as well as their distinctive teachings, stories, and
customs. In fact the Chassidic groups being as a whole named after cities
in eastern-Europe are keeping the memory of these towns alive more than
any other organization. In the Brooklyn area alone there are close to 250
Synagogues named after nearly 150 towns and villages.

As a Project Archivist researching these groups and their origins I
would be glad to assist anyone seeking more information about their
possible genealogical connection to any specific group.

I can be reached at <BinMoses@Juno.Com>

Abraham J. Heschel
Brooklyn, NY

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