The Jew and the prince: lecture by prof. Nancy Sinkoff at the POLIN Museum
Prof. Nancy Sinkoff from Rutgers University (USA) will speak about an unusual friendship between Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski and Mendel Lefin, a learned Jew from Satanów in the Podolia Province. The lecture devoted to the relations between Polish Jews and magnates will take place at POLIN Museum on Thursday, 19 March, at 6.00 p. m. The meeting will inaugurate a cycle of open lectures The History of Jews: Old and New Questions.
“A Marriage of Reason” – this is how one could describe relations between the magnates and Jews in the 16th- 18th centuries. Their mutual contacts were often limited to the nobility using services of Jewish administrators, leaseholders and trade agents. Sometimes, however, relations between Jews and magnates expanded beyond the area of business. That was the case with Mendel Lefin and Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, who shared great belief in knowledge and admiration for the ideas of the Enlightenment.
According to the legend, Lefin and Czartoryski met in a small store ran by Lefin’s wife. The prince’s attention was drawn to a book by Christian Wolff, an outstanding German mathematician and philosopher, which was displayed on the counter. Czartoryski was intrigued and started talking about it with Lefin. He was so impressed by Mendel’s insights and erudition that not only did he hire him as his son’s teacher but also became his protector and provided him with comfortable conditions for scientific research. During the session of the Sejm Czteroletni (Four Years’ Sejm), Prince Czartoryski even consulted Mendel when the reform of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the issue of Jewish rights were debated.
Their extraordinary friendship and other relations between Jews and magnates in Poland in the 18th and 19th centuries will be elaborated on by Prof. Nancy Sinkoff from Rutgers University. The lecture will take place on Thursday, 19 March, at 6.00 p. m.
Prof. Sinkoff’s research involves the history of Polish Jews in the period between the 18th and the 20th centuries. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She participated in the work on the Shtetl and the Encounters with Modernity galleries of the POLIN Museum Core Exhibition.
The lecture “The Jew and the Prince: Mendel Lefin and Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski. The Case Study of the Relations between Aristocracy and Jews” will inaugurate a cycle of open lectures The History of Jews: Old and New Questions. POLIN Museum will invite outstanding lecturers from both Poland and abroad to raise questions about the most important processes which shaped the long history of Polish Jews.