Jewish History Soundbites

A House Divided: The Partitions of Poland & the Jews

November 3, 2021

The three partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793 & 1795 ended the Polish Kingdom (or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), and divided it between Austria, Russia and Prussia. This had far reaching consequences for the largest Jewish community in the world which had resided within the borders of the kingdom. 

Their new rulers desired a more central authority, and much of the Jewish autonomy was curtailed as a result. The Jewish communities of each empire found themselves under new political entities, new laws, new language and culture, and they now were on a different trajectory than their brethren who were on the other side of an international border.

In the last years of the Polish Kingdom the Four Year Sejm took place between 1788-1792. The reforms which were raised in regards to Jews economic opportunity and political status, would echo through the Jewish communities of partitioned Poland throughout the upcoming 19th century. 


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