Special Tours

Polin Museum: An All-Encompassing View of Jewish Life in Warsaw


Our students in front of a memorial to the Polish Jews outside of the Polin Museum.

While in Warsaw, the study tour group went through the Polin Museum. The museum showcases history of Jewish people in Poland, starting in the Dark Ages. The opening exhibition of the museum relays the story of the first Jew to come to Poland, said to be a merchant, and as he traveled through the land he heard from heaven: “Po-lin (Poe-Leen)” or in Hebrew “rest here.”


Student, Hana, poses with cutouts of Polish Jews from the 19th century.

The museum continues to tell of special circumstances in Poland that made the country more welcoming to Jews than most other countries in Europe. These accommodations included protected ghettos or neighborhoods where Jews could live in their community without fear of persecution as here Jews were also given freedom of religion. This isn’t to say that Poland wasn’t without anti-semitism and hate-crimes against Jews, but many Jews saw Poland as safe for them and their families. An exhibition in the museum discusses the complicated relationship between the Church and the Jews; the exhibition included anti-semitic paintings found in cathedrals and crimes committed against Jews in the name of religion.


Student, Alexa, walking through the Museum.

Polin Museum shapes what Jewish life would have looked like, complete with recreated sections of a medieval synagogue decorated with astrological animals painted in bright pastels. Here they chose to show some artifacts found in synagogues that survived World War II. The museum also highlighted religious life in Poland with digital reading rooms. The curators set up touchscreen desks with digital versions of the tanach, complete with commentaries written in Poland.

The different exhibitions detailed all classes of life throughout Jewish history, including a tavern, a train station lobby, a printing press office and the parlor of a wealthy household. Other exhibitions highlighted different famous Jews in Polish history, including painters, philosophers, and more.  


Students, Hana and Tutti, learning about despotic monarchs who have conflicting interests in Poland.

This establishment of pre-modern Jewish life in Poland led to World War I and the inter-war period. The curators chose to showcase this with a common city street. The different shops detailed different aspects of modern Jewish life, such as a room with a record player and numbered footprints on the floor to learn how to dance. Across the street was a newspaper room, which specified events in the interwar period.

Finally, the students arrived at exhibitions of the Holocaust in Poland. Leaving Poland without a strong Jewish community, most of the surviving community migrated in the years after the war, leaving very few Jews in Poland. The closing exhibition in the museum looks out on a field in Warsaw, signifying the unbuilt Jewish future in Poland.

The entirety of the museum can be self-guided with audio tours. To learn more about the museum, check out their website. http://www.polin.pl/en

Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website


Internships Available for Students of the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies

The Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies program is proud to announce another call for applications for our prestigious international internships. The program will allocate six internships to our students who have not yet graduated.

  • Two students will be selected to intern at the Wiener Library for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide in London. (www.wienerlibrary.co.uk)

  • Two students will be be selected to intern at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. (www.polin.pl/en)

  • Two students will be selected to intern at the Jewish Museum in Budapest. (www.enmilev.weebly.com)

Each unpaid internship will be four to six weeks long, and the Weiss-Livnat program will provide costs of flights and rent for the duration of the internship (up to $1,500).

The candidates will be selected by a committee of staff from the Weiss-Livnat MA Program together with each institution

This offer is exclusive to the students of the Weiss-Livnat Program. The selected students will start their internships in the autumn-winter 2017-18. The exact dates will be decided upon by the students and each museum.

Those interested in applying please send these documents to Dr. Eila Perkis (eperkis@univ.haifa.ac.il)

  • Updated CV with details of the languages you speak, write and read in.

  • One letter of recommendation.

  • One page essay explaining why you would like to intern at the specific institution (it is recommended to apply to more than one position to improve your chances of being accepted.)

If selected, students will conduct a Skype interview with the museum(s).

Deadline for submissions is June 30, 2017.

To read about the experiences of our students during their internships or about the internships themselves, read the articles tagged below.