The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies launched a study abroad program to Poland in the summer of 2023 titled “Jews of Poland: History and Memory.” Dr. Ellie R. Schainker, Arthur Blank Family Foundation Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies, led the inaugural trip. Building on the successes of last year, the TJIS will offer an expanded trip this year, led by Associate Professor of History Dr. Eric Goldstein. The 11-day, 1-credit program will take students to Poland from May 19-30, 2024. The Berger Family Fund, established by Bruce, Michelle, and Emily Berger 23C with the purpose of supporting student experiential learning on topics related to antisemitism, Jewish life, and Jewish history, will allow TIJS to heavily subsidize the program for students. Read more about the experience from a student’s perspective from last year, and find about more information about the 2024 trip.
“Jewish engagement with Poland and Eastern Europe is a story of huge contrast,” Goldstein shares. “It’s a story of vibrant Jewish life – it was the largest center of Jewish life in the world for many decades, if not centuries – and also a site of immense tragedy. And then, in recent years, a site of a kind of cultural rebirth. So I think (Poland) really provides a lot of very interesting tensions, interesting questions.”
As they unpack these tensions and questions, students will split time between Krakow and Warsaw where they’ll engage in dialogue with contemporary Polish and Polish-Jewish activists, university students, and cultural and community leaders. Additionally, the program will feature excursions to historical locations such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, Wieliczka Salt Mines, and – new to this year – a former “shtetl.” A shtetl “was a typical small town where Jews in Eastern Europe lived, especially in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries,” Goldstein explains. “So we’ll not only have a chance to explore how Jews lived in the larger cities, but this kind of classic example of how they lived in the countryside as well.”