07/08/2018 28/10/2018
Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw

Extraordinary photos capturing Jewish life over 4 decades go on show

Fishman first started taking photos of Jewish life in Poland in 1975. Chuck Fishman/Jewish Historical Institute

A compelling photography exhibition documenting over four decades of, an often fraught, Jewish life in Poland has opened at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

The collection of 73 black and white photographs by veteran American press photographer Chuck Fishman details 43 years of post-war Jewish history, from 1975 to the present day, including its struggle to remain relevant at a time when the Polish Jewry had all but disappeared.

The photographs, divided into two distinct historical periods, first trace various dwindling communities trying to survive in a post-1968 Polish Communist reality.

The photos show an ageing Jewish population, of rabbinical meetings between elderly men seeing out their days in the comfort of old rituals.

In contrast, when the exhibition picks up again in the 2000s, the young have replaced the old, buoyed by a cultural and religious revival taking hold in post-communist Poland.

In this new reality, Poles and Jews alike show an interest in recovering a shared Polish-Jewish past.

Fishman first started taking photos of Jewish life in Poland in 1975 and his photographs have earned him prestigious World Press Photo Foundation medals and have been featured in magazines such as Life, Newsweek, Time, and Fortune.

The “RE-GENERATION. Jewish Life in Poland” exhibition will run until the end of October at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.