PASSOVER IN GALICIA
From our Vice President, and Director of Historical and Public Education, Dr. Andrew Zalewski:
Being in the midst of Passover many of you might find it interesting to learn how our Jewish holidays were viewed by the imperial authorities in Galicia. In 1818 the appellate court in Lemberg, citing the imperial edict from January 17 of the same year, affirmed that Jews could not be summoned by the courts on certain days due to the observance of holidays. Among five holidays for which such waivers were granted, Pesach was described as the holiday of eight days, during which Jews were legally exempt from court appearances during the first two days and during the last two days.
This historical curio from 1818 is attached (in Latin).
In 1785 and 1789 Emperor Joseph II decreed the principle of toleration for Galician Jews. Those policies were continued by his successors (as the document from the reign of Emperor Francis I suggests) even when the Jews were still lacking full civil and political rights.
So during Passover 5780/2020, as we sit in our quarantine, let's remember that our Galician ancestors were excused from official obligations during the first two days and the last two days of the Festival.
We at Gesher Galicia wish you all a good week, a good Yom Tov and let's all stay safe.
Dr. Steven S. Turner