Speaker: Andrew Zalewski
The talk Galician Portraits: The Story of Jews, Gentiles, and Emperors brings to life the Jewish community of Galicia. The speaker’s personal genealogical discoveries are intertwined within a larger historical context. Coming from outside of the Jewish community, the imperial edicts are both stifling and inspiring — the laws about Jewish marriages, surnames, secular schools, military service, and land ownership bring a dizzying pace of changes but also plenty of controversies. Coming from inside the Jewish community of Galicia, which is more diverse and vibrant than typically acknowledged, there is a wave of the Jewish Enlightenment — biting satires by local Jewish cultural rebels are met with condemnations and a counterattack of traditionalists. As never before, Galician Jews face a dilemma of so many linguistic and lifestyle choices. The community comes alive: professionals, pious traditionalists and self-assured reformers, dwellers of shtetls and cities are heard in this narrative. The story of Galician Jews is the story of many contrasts: poverty mixes with opportunities, separateness with acculturation, whereas the sounds of Yiddish and Hebrew fill heders, while German and Polish are spoken in public schools.
Based on the expanded research to Dr. Zalewski’s recently published book Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, his talk is illustrated by many pictures, newly discovered historical documents, and old maps of Galicia.
Andrew serves on the Board of Directors of Gesher Galicia, Inc., a non-profit organization, which has a global membership and is dedicated to a research of Jewish genealogy in the former Galicia. He is also Executive Editor of The Galitzianer, the organization's quarterly research journal.
Andrew Zalewski was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States. His hobbies include travel and unearthing old records concerning Galicia and bringing to light its story. Several generations of his Jewish and Christian ancestors traced their roots to this former province of the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empire. Despite a busy professional life, Andrew published two non-fiction historical books about Galicia, Galician Trails: The Forgotten Story of One Family and Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, where he weaves in unique and surprising discoveries about his genealogical research (www.thelzopress.com).