A Tefillin Tale from Siberia
Play • 32 min

In this episode, Katharina Freise talks with Lidia Zessin-Jurek about some very special tefillin, which is the name given to two black leather boxes with straps which are put on by adult Jews for weekday morning prayers, and are worn on the forehead and upper arm.

During her research into Polish Jewish refugees in the USSR, Lidia came across the story of the Polaniecki family, mother and father and four brothers (between fifteen and four years old at the time of the war). She got into contact with Salomon (Sam) Polaniecki, who today lives in the US. This Polish-Jewish family managed to survive the Holocaust in the USSR, first in Siberia, later in Tajikistan. Lidia has talked to Sam and his older brother Joseph many times. During their forced exile in the Soviet Union, Joseph made the tefillin of Siberian birch bark. Until 2013, the tefillin were in the possession of the family, the only object, apart from a few photos, they took back with them from the USSR when they returned to Poland after the war. The tefillin are now in the collection of Yad Vashem.

Featured guests:

Lidia Zessin-Jurek is a historian, researcher of memory (Holocaust, Gulag) and refugee movements in Polish lands past and present (refugees on Polish-Belarusian, Polish-Ukrainian borders). As part of an ERC project "Unlikely refuge?" (Czech Academy of Sciences, Masaryk Institute and Archives, Prague), she's developing a book on the refugeeism of Polish Jews in 1939. 

Podcast host is Katharina Freise.

Music accreditation: Blue Dot Sessions. Tracks - Opening and closing: Stillness. Incidental, Gathering Stasis, Pencil Marks, Uncertain Ground, Marble Transit and Snowmelt. License Creative Commons Atttribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (BB BY-NC 4.0).
Andy Clark, Podcastmaker, Studio Lijn 14

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