Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poland -- Austeria in Krakow

Austeria book store, Krakow. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

I was pleased to see a nice mention of Austeria publisher in Krakow, as part of a story in the Jerusalem Post about Jewish renewal in Krakow.

The new Polish-language book Dovev Siftei Yeshenim (The Utterings of the Lips of the Sleepers), written by Krakow's Rabbi Boaz Pash, is an effort to bring back to life the voices of the city's rabbinic tradition in the place where it all happened. The book is a collection of interpretations on the weekly Torah portion written by some of the greatest rabbis Krakow ever produced.

"Everyone has heard about the rabbis and sages of Krakow, but who can quote them?" asks Pash. "What member of the current generation that is living and growing up in Poland can open their books? This book and others of its kind represent an attempt to meet that need."

The book begins with 15th century scholar Rabbi Yom Tov Milhausen, and continues with such luminaries of the Jewish bookshelf as the 16th century giant Rabbi Moshe Isserles, better known as the Rama, and the 17th-century halachist Rabbi Yoel Sirkas, the Bach.

"Poland is experiencing a renewal of Jewish culture and a demand for more information about Judaism, both in the past and present," says Pash.

Indeed, the book's publisher, the local Jewish publishing house Austeria, is part of that revival, owned by a Krakow couple who run a Jewish-themed café, bookstore and hotel. At 30 zlotys (about NIS 40), it is priced for popular consumption.

Austeria is run by Wojtek and Malgosia Ornat, who also run the Klezmer Hois cafe/restaurant/hotel, a Jewish book store and a Jewish art gallery (in the High Synagogue).

Austeria published my book "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)" last year.

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