1000 Years of Changing Borders

I attended two days of sessions it the IAJGS Conference. I was told by prior conference participants that that would be plenty ... go out and enjoy being in Eastern Europe. I pretty much stuck to the conference schedule I pre-posted. As a geography geek, I really enjoyed Hal Bookbinder’ sessions on 1000 years of Changing Borders, and the Russian Pale. Between those and a couple of other sessions, plus some history from local tour guides and the Polin Museum. I got a better understanding of migration patterns of my ancestors. The Polish Kings were the most welcoming in the region. Although anti-semitism existed across Eastern Europe it was less in Poland as Jews were at least welcomed into society as merchants, tavern keepers, money lenders, tax collectors, lawyers, physicians, and in many other middle class positions. 

However, they faired better or worse based on the monarch and the impacts of war and politics. My ancestors likely expanded into Volyn and Lithuania along with the Polish people to populate these lands and/or serve at the bidding of the Polish kings and nobility. Of course they remained as Polish influence waned and or disappeared over 1000 years of conflict, negotiation, and policy.

As I continue my journey into Ukraine and then Lithuania, perhaps the story will change.


Although the Polin Museum (a history of Jews in Poland) was an informative and watered down version (my opinion) of Jewish life and the welcoming nature of the “polish people” ... I was struck by the irony of my purchase at the Museum Shop. A Jew eraser .... hmmm