Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jozef the father of Janusz Korczak as erudite and learned

Misza Wroblewski in this picture


In front of Dom Sierot

He was erudite as a scholar intent on demthologizing the Talmud as stated. He, quoting the German and Hebrew sources, knew both German and Hebrew to accomplish this task of making the abstruse familiar, a familiar topic understandable to Pole and Jew alike. He did not take the easier route as was often done of condemning the book but sought by scholarly love to make it understandable. The book was blamed by Poles and assimilated Jews for the "evil behavior" of the Jews . His erudite overview quoting the Hebrew sources gives us a glimpse of his stature as scholar and his role as teacher and lecturer in Jewish marriage law at Kalisz where he met leading Jewish families and met his wife,then wife to be, Cecylia Gebicka,Janusz' mother. He was 30, she 17. Her father Adolf Gebicki was a textile manufacturer and assimilated Jew as well.Adolf was the son of a doctor with a moral fervor akin to Jozef's. Adolf was a folk hero and "saved the poor Jews of Kalisz from homelessness by convincing the governor to spare their dilapidated tenements from demolition. This bespeaks social action born from social concern for his kindred. Janusz had these same qualities as did his maternal grandfather and transferred that concern for acting in the lives of children and establishing orphanages.Adolf's wife and son moved to Warsaw to be near his daughter Cecylia, by now assuredly Jozef's wife and Janusz' mother.He died two years later and Emilia moved in with the couple.

Jozef´s last major publication, in 1871, was his dissertation on Talmudic
divorce law, a subject in which he specialized. Praised in an introduction by
his Warsaw University law professor for being the first to make this esoteric
topic accessible to the Polish people, Jozef was clearly intent on
demythologizing the Talmud, which many Poles blamed for the strange and even
"evil" behavior of the Jews. Unlike other assimilated Jews who joined the Poles
in criticizing the holy book as a backward influence on their people, Jozef
gives an erudite overview of Jewish law (quoting both German and Hebrew sources)
as it operated in Poland from the eleventh century to the nineteenth.

are no records as to when and how Jozef Goldszmit met his wife, Cecylia Gebicka,
but it may have been in 1874 when he lectured on Jewish marriage law in Kalisz,
an old industrial town in western Poland
. He was thirty, and she seventeen. It
is probable that Jozef had introductions to the leading Jewish families in
Kalisz, among whom was Cecylia´s father, Adolf Gebicki. A successful textile
manufacturer active in both Jewish and Polish circles, Adolf, who himselfwas the
son ofa doctor, had an assimilated background and moral fervor similar to
Jozef´s. (
He was even something of a folk hero to the poor Jews of Kalisz whom
he saved from homelessness by persuading the Governor to spare their dilapidated
tenements marked for demolition.)
The following year, when he was fifty-three,
Adolf was "felled like an oak and paralyzed" (as his obituary would read). He,
his wife Emilia, and his son moved to Warsaw, perhaps to be near his daughter,
who was by then either married or engaged to Jozef. When he died two years
later, Emilia moved in with the newly married couple.
Although Korczak wrote
with deep affection in the Ghetto Diary of his " Grannie " (the only grandparent
he knew, and the only person in his household who "understood" him), he was more
reticent about his complex relationship with his mother, whose picture he kept
on his desk all his life. " My mother. Later about that, " he noted. But there
was to be no later.

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