The Virtual Shtetl
Virtual Shtetl is an online portal documenting the history of Jewish communities in Eastern and Central Europe. It is visited yearly by millions of users from all across the globe.
The portal collects information on over 1,900 cities, towns and villages located within the historical borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, spanning the territories of today’s Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Moldova. We present the history of a given Jewish community from its first settlement until the Holocaust, and in the case of large cities – until the present day. The texts are accompanied by maps, iconography, biographical data, glossary as well as encyclopaedic entries pertaining to Jewish social life: religion, tradition, education, economy and culture.
Since 2017, the portal also features oral history interviews and genealogical records. We continue to publish large statistical databases and new pictorial documentation of Jewish monuments (synagogues, cemeteries) and memorial sites. The portal is available in four language versions: Polish, English, Hebrew and German. The Virtual Shtetl portal was established in 2009. Since then, it has been continuously developed by the Internet community (20,000 registered users) as well as by professional historians, editors and publishers.
Prior to the Second World War, clusters of houses, stores, schools and synagogues, all marked by mezuzot fixed on door frames, resounded with the Yiddish language throughout the working week. The hustle and bustle would die down on Friday evenings, when the community began to celebrate the Shabbat. The Virtual Shtetl portal wishes to pay homage to the thousands of Jewish communities residing within the territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History
The Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History. Within the framework of this project we document rescue stories and present them on the bilingual website www.righteous.org.pl. The collection of stories spans several hundred texts, accompanied by photographs, documents, and excerpts of recorded interviews.
We are also active in education and social work – conducting workshops for students and teachers, organizing discussion panels, and releasing publications. Our website also features educational materials, such as lesson plans, a virtual exhibition, and albums about the Righteous.
Jewish Warsaw is an online multimedia guide to the Polish capital as seen through the history of its Jewish residents.
Warsaw may be toured according to various scenarios: following in the footsteps of strip cartoons’ protagonists, wandering through the city in the company of Janusz Korczak, or turning a walk in contemporary Warsaw - presented in the form of a blog - into a true time travel.
The platform consists of three parts which are available to all users. The mobile application called “In the footsteps of Janusz Korczak” is particularly recommended for junior high school students who are able to follow the footsteps of the Jewish educator and doctor along two distinct routes through the city.
An extended version of this walk can be found on the desktop platform. For high school students, we sincerely recommend the “Stories and Sketches” multimedia comic book, which presents the history of nine characters in an authorial interpretation by Monika Powalisz and Jacek Michalski.
There are also interesting proposals for teachers – scenarios that can be followed during classes. The “Past and Present” part is designed for adults who are willing to learn about the history of Jewish Warsaw from the very moment when Jews first settled there, wandering the trail from the Vistula river through the Tłomackie Square, the Nalewki and Grzybów boroughs, the Senatorska street and the Theatre Square all the way to the Praga district.
In this part, adult users will also learn about the history of the Warsaw Jews during World War II. The post-war story of Warsaw is told from the perspective of twelve different guides. Here, history takes on a personal dimension; our guides include Józef Hen, Eleonora Bergman, Seweryn Blumsztajn and Bożena Werbart as well as representatives of the young generation such as Daniel Slomka or Joanna Baczko.
The Central Judaica Database
The Central Judaica Database (judaika.polin.pl) is an internet database of information on artefacts and documents related to Jewish culture, scattered across Poland and the world. The database, operated by POLIN Museum, currently contains descriptions and photographs of over 5200 Judaica from the collections of 11 institutions. The database is a work-in-progress and we invite potential partners to contact us at: [email protected]
The CJD has many useful functions, like viewing artefacts in high-resolution or downloading images. It can also be accessed via all kinds of mobile devices.
The construction of a professional database featuring images of Judaica began in October 2011. The first step was to digitize selected objects from the collections of POLIN Museum and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
We have so far invited the following institutions to work with us on the project:
Muzeum Regionalne w Łęcznej, branch of Muzeum Lubelskie
Muzeum Historyczno-Archeologiczne w Ostrowcu Świętokrzyskim
State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw
Muzeum Niepodległości w Warszawie
Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland
Muzeum Kresów w Lubaczowie
Muzeum Pojezierza Łęczyńsko-Włodawskiego we Włodawie
Castle Museum in Łańcut
Muzeum w Sosnowcu – Pałac Schoena
Project financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage within the framework of the Culture+ Multiannual Program operated by the National Audiovisual Institute.
Organised with the support of the Norway and EEA Grants from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.