Program Details

The Rise and Fall of the Polish Shtetl

Bill Farran
Jewish Culture & History / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

It is estimated that 80% of all European Jews can trace their ancestors back to the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. Until the modern era, they worshipped and prayed in wooden synagogues. Large wooden synagogues were works of art that did not survive the Holocaust. This presentation attempts to bring them back to life. Wooden synagogues were built during a period of prosperity.  The audience will see how they were built, and what they looked like, inside and out. Also discussed will be the Jewish migration into the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania at the bequest of Polish nobles. The shtetl - the relationship between the nobles, Jews and serfs will also be explored along with the Jewish Golden Age and its destruction and rebuilding of Jewish society.  Also included will be stories and tales about various shtetls gathered from Yiskor books and other sources.

About the Instructor

  • Bill Farran, combining his love for art and history, explored Eastern Europe’s Wooden Synagogues. Since they were all destroyed by the end of the Holocaust, Farran’s research, through photographs, drawings, and stories has allowed him to recreate these “Lost Treasures” as linocuts and woodcuts. Through his study of the shtetls Farran has learned about Eastern European Jewish history. His artwork was shown in the Bialystok Opera House for the 75th anniversary of the ghetto uprising. Farran's linocuts were also featured in the San Diego Repertory Theatre's Dybbuk Play, and were used as a backdrop for the Yiddishpiel Theater’s production of Goldfarben’s The Witch in Israel. Farran has presented at the 92nd Street Y, many synagogues, libraries and genealogy meetings and has authored a book and writes a quarterly column.

Upcoming programs presented by Bill Farran.

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