Jewish History in Poland World War II and Beyond

At the start of World War II, Poland was partitioned between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact). The war resulted in the death of one-fifth of the Polish population, with 90% or about 3 million of Polish Jewry killed along with approximately 3 million Polish non-Jews. Examples of Polish gentile attitudes to German atrocities varied widely, from actively risking death in order to save Jewish lives, and passive refusal to inform on them; to indifference, blackmail, and in extreme cases, participation in pogroms such as the Jedwabne pogrom. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

In the postwar period, many of the approximately 200,000 Jewish survivors registered at Central Committee of Polish Jews or CKŻP (of whom 136,000 arrived from the Soviet Union) left the Communist People’s Republic of Poland for the nascent State of Israel and North or South America. Their departure was hastened by the destruction of Jewish institutions, post-war violence and the hostility of the Communist Party to both religion and private enterprise, but also because in 1946–1947 Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah to Israel without visas or exit permits. Britain demanded Poland to halt the exodus, but their pressure was largely unsuccessful. Most of the remaining Jews left Poland in late 1968 as the result of the Soviet-sponsored “anti-Zionist” campaign. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, the situation of Polish Jews became normalized and those who were Polish citizens before World War II were allowed to renew Polish citizenship. Religious institutions were revived, largely through the activities of Jewish foundations from the United States. The contemporary Polish Jewish community is estimated to have approximately 20,000 members, though the actual number of Jews, including those who are not actively connected to Judaism or Jewish culture, may be several times larger.

Jewish History in Poland Before World War II

The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was the centre of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the Partitions of Poland which began in 1772, in particular, with the discrimination and persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany, during the 1939–1945 German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Since the fall of Communism there has been a Jewish revival in Poland, characterized by the annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programmes at Polish high schools and universities, the work of synagogues such as the Nozyk, and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe. Known as paradisus Iudaeorum (Latin for “Paradise for the Jews”), it became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world’s largest Jewish community of the time. According to some sources, about three-quarters of all Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century. With the weakening of the Commonwealth and growing religious strife (due to the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation), Poland’s traditional tolerance began to wane from the 17th century onward. After the partitions of Poland in 1795 and the destruction of Poland as a sovereign state, Polish Jews were subject to the laws of the partitioning powers, the increasingly antisemitic Russian Empire, as well as Austro-Hungary and Kingdom of Prussia (later a part of the German Empire). Still, as Poland regained independence in the aftermath of World War I, it was the center of the European Jewish world with one of world’s largest Jewish communities of over 3 million. Antisemitism, however, from both the political establishment and from the general population, common throughout Europe, was a growing problem.

Château d’Amboise and Environs

Amboise is a commune in the Indre-et-Loire department in central France. It lies on the banks of the Loire River, 17 miles east of Tours. Today a small market town, it was once home of the French royal court. The town of Amboise is also only about 11 miles away from the historic Château de Chenonceau, situated on the Cher River near the small village of Chenonceaux. Its former name was Ambacia, from the old name of the river and marsh Amasse.

The city is famous for the Clos Lucé manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived (and ultimately died) at the invitation of King Francis I of France, whose Château d’Amboise, which dominates the town, is located just 1,640 feet away. The narrow streets contain some good examples of timbered housing.

Just outside of the city is the Pagode de Chanteloup, a 144.4 feet tall Chinese Pagoda built in 1775 by the Duke of Choiseul. The Pagoda is seven levels high, with each level slightly smaller than the last one. An interior staircase to reach all levels is open to the public. The Musée de la Poste (in the Hôtel Joyeuse) is a museum tracing the history of the postal delivery service. A 19th-century fountain by John Oswald of a turtle topped by a teddy bear figure, standing in front of the spot where the markets are held.

Clovis I (c. 466–511) and the Visigoths signed a peace treaty of alliance here with the Arvernians in 503, which assisted him in his defeat of the Visigothic kingdom in the Battle of Vouillé in 507. Joan of Arc passed through in 1429 on her way to Orleans to the Battle of Patay.

The Château at Amboise was home to Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, for much of her early life, being raised there at the French court of Henry II. She arrived in France from Scotland in 1548, aged six, via the French king’s favourite palace at Saint Germain en Laye near Paris, and remained in France until 1561, when she returned to her homeland – sailing up the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh on 15 August that year.

Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life in Amboise. Some of his inventions are still there and have not been removed. The house has lost some of its original parts, but it still stands today and has a beautiful overlook of the Loire River.

Dalet (ד)

The dalet is the fourth letter of the alef-beis. The Talmud tells us that the dalet represents the poor person. Thus the phrase gomel dalim: the benefactor who gives to the benefi­ciary.

The Talmud also tells us that when we observe the shape of the dalet, its single leg stretches toward the right—in the direction of the gimmel. This teaches the poor person that he has to make himself available to receive the charity of the benefactor. Similarly, the small extension on the right-hand side of the dalet’s horizontal bar looks like an ear, for the pauper must always be listening for the presence of the wealthy man. However the left side of this bar doesn’t confront the gimmel, the giver, but faces left, toward the letter hei, which represents G‑d. This instructs us that we must give charity discretely and not embarrass the poor person. The pauper must put his faith in G‑d, Who is the ultimate Giver of the universe.

The Mishnah tells us that in the Holy Temple, there was a room called “the Silent Chamber.” One would enter this room alone and close the door directly behind him. In the room was a big box. One had a choice: either to put money into the box or to take some out. Of course, the rich man would put money in. And after him, also alone, would come the poor man, who took money out. It was all done discreetly. The rich man couldn’t see to whom he was giving charity. The poor person didn’t know from whom he was taking it.

A second approach to the form or design of the dalet is that the dalet represents a doorpost and a lintel. The vertical line is the doorpost; the horizontal line is the lintel. What is the con­nection between the door and the poor man? Customarily, a poor man must knock on doors.

There’s also a third interpretation provided by the teachings of Chassidus. This view points out that the dalet is composed of a reish and a yud. What’s the difference between the dalet, ד and the reish, ר? A yud. If one affixes a yud to the upper right-hand corner of the reish, the reish becomes a dalet. The yud, a very small letter, represents humility. That humility is what separates the reish from the dalet. The mezuzah on our door­posts contains the famous paragraph of the prayer known as the Shema. In the Shema we say, “Hear O Israel, G‑d is our L-rd, G‑d is One.” The word echad, one, as in “G‑d is One,” is spelled with the letters alef, ches, dalet, אחד. What happens if the yud is removed from the dalet and it becomes a reish? The word is no longer echad, but acher, אחר—other. If such a mistake were made, this would now translate into, “Hear O Israel, G‑d is our L-rd, G‑d is other (i.e., other gods).” So critical is the aspect of yud, humility, in the belief in G‑d’s oneness that its omission might cause one to reject G‑d and believe in the existence of other omnipotent powers in the universe. The Midrash tells us that if one switches the reish for the dalet, he’s destroying all the worlds.

Source: Secrets of the Hebrew Alphabet

Gimel (ג)


In the Talmud it is said that the Gimmel symbolizes a rich man running after a poor man (the next letter Dalet) to give him tzedakah (charity). (dalut) in Hebrew means impoverished. Gimmel thus represents the free choice to run after the teaching of Torah by practicing acts of chesed (loving kindness).

The גימל – gimel introduces us to the idea of the journey (in the existential sense of life-altering awareness, most often involving a struggle), specifically of riding the camel (גמל – gamal). The letter’s name forms the words גמל – gamel and gomel (“one who performs kind deeds”),57 representing the soul’s ability to give to and nourish others. Thanks to his courage, strength, and desire to help his master, the camel helps human beings to overcome the trial of crossing the parched and dangerous desert.

The spiritual lesson we learn from the camel (so deeply influenced by the shape and the spiritual energy of the gimel) is the ability to reduce our needs to a minimum. When necessary, this marvelous animal can abstain from drinking for thirty days. The camel thus performs a genuine act of self-limitation, forgoing its own needs for the sake of others. This is reminiscent of the primordial tzimtzum (“contraction”) that preceded the Creation of the world: God withdrew His infinite presence into Himself in order to give creation the “space” it needed to exist. A person who strives mightily and makes great sacrifices in order to reach an altruistic goal exhibits this same selflessness.

In the relationship between the letter gimel and the gamal (“camel”), we can see the symbolic teachings that the ancient Hebrews associated with animals. We consistently find throughout ancient cultures, including ancient and modern shamanic practices all over the world, the presence of animals as messengers, helpers, and guides. All shamanic cultures have a system of symbology associated with the animals most closely related to them (for example, the bear and the wolf in some Native American traditions, and the Siberian tiger and the snow leopard in Mongolia). When these animals appear either in nature or in meditative visions, they carry messages related to the symbolism between that animal and the culture that recognizes it as a helper.

The relationship between gimel and the gamal is evidence of how the dialogue with the cosmic soul of animals58 is basic to Judaism.

Source —> Secrets of the Hebrew Alphabet

The Louvre: A Short History

The Louvre or the Louvre Museum is the world’s largest museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st arrondissement. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 652,300 square feet. The Louvre is the world’s second most visited museum after the Palace Museum in China, receiving more than 9.26 million visitors in 2014.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function and, in 1546, was converted by Francis I of France into the main residence of the French Kings. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation’s masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon’s abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and bequests since the Third Republic. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

Paris: An Overview


Paris is the capital and the most populous city of France. It has an area of 105 41 square miles and a population in 2013 of 2,229,621 within the city limits. Paris is both a commune and department, and forms the centre and headquarters of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an area of 4,638 square miles and a population in 2014 of 12,005,077, comprising 18.2 percent of the population of France.

The agglomeration has grown well beyond Paris’ administrative limits. The Paris unité urbaine is a measure of Paris’ continuous urban area for statistical purposes, including both the commune and its suburbs, and has a population of 10,601,122 which makes it the largest in the European Union. The aire urbaine de Paris, a measure of Paris’ metropolitan area, spans most of the Île-de-France region and has a population of 12,405,426, constituting one-fifth of the population of France. The Metropole of Grand Paris was created in 2016, combining the city and its nearest suburbs into a single area for economic and environmental cooperation. Grand Paris covers 314 square miles and has a population of 6.945 million persons.

Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic people called the Parisii, who gave the city its name. By the 12th century, Paris was the largest city in the western world, a prosperous trading centre, and the home of the University of Paris, one of the oldest universities in history. By the 17th century it was one of Europe’s major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts, and it retains that position still today.

The city is a major rail, highway, and air-transport hub, served by the two international airports Paris-Charles de Gaulle (the second busiest airport in Europe after London Heathrow Airport with 63.8 million passengers) and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city’s subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily. It is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Paris is the hub of the national road network, and is surrounded by three orbital roads: the Périphérique, the A86 motorway, and the Francilienne motorway.

Among Paris’ important museums and cultural institutions are the most visited art museum in the world, the Louvre, as well as the Musée d’Orsay, noted for its collection of French Impressionist art, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in the Pompidou Centre, the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe. The Central area of Paris along the Seine River is classified as a UNESCO Heritage Site, and includes many notable monuments, including Notre Dame Cathedral (12th century to 13th century ); the Sainte-Chapelle (13th century); the Eiffel Tower (1889); the Grand Palais and Petit Palais (1900); and the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur on Montmartre (1914). In 2015 Paris received 22.2 million visitors, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. and is also known for its fashion, particularly the twice-yearly Paris Fashion Week, and for its haute cuisine, and three-star restaurants. Most of France’s major universities and grandes écoles are located in Paris, as are France’s major newspapers, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération.

The association football club Paris Saint-Germain and the rugby union club Stade Français are based in Paris. The 80,000-seat Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, is located just north of Paris in the commune of Saint-Denis. Paris hosts the annual French Open Grand Slam tennis tournament on the red clay of Roland Garros. Paris hosted the 1900 and 1924 Summer Olympics and is bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and thus become the second city to have hosted the Games three times. The 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, the 2007 Rugby World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016 were also held in the city, and every July, the Tour de France of cycling finishes in the city.

DSM-5 Classification of Delusions

Types of Delusions:

Erotomanic type: This subtype applies when the central theme of the delusion is that another person is in love with the individual.

Grandiose type: This subtype applies when the central theme of the delusion is the conviction of having some great (but unrecognized) talent or insight or having made some important discovery.

Jealous type: This subtype applies when the central theme of the individual’s delusion is that his or her spouse or lover is unfaithful.

Persecutory type: This subtype applies when the central theme of the delusion involves the individual’s belief that he or she is being conspired against, cheated, spied on, followed, poisoned or drugged, maliciously maligned, harassed, or obstructed in the pursuit of long-term goals.

Somatic type: This subtype applies when the central theme of the delusion involves bodily functions or sensations.

Mixed type: This subtype applies when no one delusional theme predominates.

Unspecified type: This subtype applies when the dominant delusional belief cannot be clearly determined or is not described in the specific types (e.g., referential delusions without a prominent persecutory or grandiose component).

Bizarre content: Delusions are deemed bizarre if they are clearly implausible, not understandable, and not derived from ordinary life experiences (e.g., an individual’s belief that a stranger has removed his or her internal organs and replaced them with someone else’s organs without leaving any wounds or scars).

Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5

Why People Lie in Therapy

People who lie in therapy do so because: 

  • They’re worried about being judged or that the therapist won’t like them.
  • They are embarrassed or feel shame about their actions or emotions.
  • If they suspect they have a problem with, say, substance use, they’re afraid that they’ll be expected to go to rehab or drug treatment.
  • They’re afraid the therapist will find that they have a serious problem such as an eating disorder or sex addiction. It should be noted that many people who engage in self-destructive behaviors also tend to withhold information (your therapist knows this by the way).
  • It’s difficult to stay in denial if you’re beginning to voice the truth out loud (and you may not be ready to deal with the consequences).
  • They’re afraid of being hospitalized.

What to Know Before Admitting Yourself to an Inpatient Psychiatric Hospital

A few ideas and options:

  1. Bring your best advocate with you. It may be your spouse, parent, close friend, or relative—someone who knows you and is familiar with your situation.
  2. Breathe. Recognize that the staff wants to help you, not hurt you.
  3. Be patient. It’s a process—there are steps to go through and paperwork to be completed
  4. Once inside, advocate for yourself. The doctor will see you. Be honest with him.
  5. Your picture will be taken, and no, they are not stealing your soul.
  6. You will be in a secured unit, locked in. At times they let you out of the unit for visits or short excursions.
  7. Do your best to cooperate with staff and your fellow patients. It may be a while before you are discharged, so bear in mind you are there to get better. Plus, you’ll earn extra “points” for being polite and pleasant.
  8. Read your patient rights and understand them.
  9. Your personal belongings will be inventoried, so they will take out shoestrings, belts, hoodies, nail clippers, razors, and anything else deemed potentially dangerous.
  10. Don’t mind the eccentric behaviors of the other patients, they’re fighting a similar battle.
  11. Accept that the insides of the building may not be the most aesthetically pleasing. (That said, don’t concentrate on abstract paintings if they have them. Abstract art is a bad idea for psychotic symptoms).
  12. If you are in a state of psychosis, the TV may sound as if it’s calling your name. It’s not, but if the AV stimulation is too much, try to leave the room or focus on a different activity.
  13. Be mindful of the opposite sex (or the same sex if you’re so inclined). Establish personal boundaries and adhere to them; the psych ward is not a place to start a romance.
  14. Listen to the staff and don’t give them a hard time.
  15. Be friendly and polite. Remember, there are human beings here with feelings.
  16. Seek out a friend and get to know some people.
  17. Read.
  18. Give yourself time and space. You are on a journey to getting better and that takes time and space.
  19. Take a photograph in your mind’s eye. Journal about it. Capture the chaotic and colorful journey. Write about it. Express yourself. Get to know who you are at this time.
  20. Be kind, regardless. Don’t expect people to respect you because a.) everyone’s imperfect and b.) they can’t respect others if they don’t respect themselves.
  21. Challenge your mind and do a puzzle, but don’t read into it—it’s just a brain exercise.
  22. Take advantage of physical activity when there’s recreation time. Your body needs a physical outlet to help process the stress your mind is going through.