Hidden Jews at Lublin Yeshiva
Hidden Jews at Lublin YeshivaIsrael news photo courtesy of Shavei Israel

Forty “hidden Jews” were among tens of thousands of Jews around the world who celebrated the completion of the “Daf Yomi” last week.

The unusual “siyum” – completion of the seven-and-a-half year cycle of learning a two-sided page of Talmud every day- took place at the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, originally founded 80 years ago by Rabbi Meir Shapiro.

Rabbi Shapiro came up with the idea of popularizing Talmud study by launching the Daf Yomi program in 1923. Last week’s 12th completion of the cycle was highlighted by mammoth events in Mets Stadium and Madison Square Garden.

The celebration in Lublin was far smaller but no less significant.

Shavei Israel, which has uncovered tens of thousands of Jews who either lost their connection with Judaism or disguised their Judaism out of fear of retribution, sponsored the celebration in Lublin.

“The symbolism of this seminar and its location are especially poignant,” Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund said. “The Germans and their collaborators sought to snuff out Jewish life and learning. But nearly seven decades after the Holocaust, Jews are once again studying the Talmud at Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin.

“Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, more and more Poles have re-discovered their Jewish roots and seek to come  closer to the Jewish People and to Israel.” 

The Lublin Yeshiva was a famous Torah institution but was desecrated by the Nazis when they took over Lublin in World War II. As they burned the library of religious books in the town square, the cries of Jews were so loud that  the German army was called to the scene to silence them. The Nazis later turned the building of the yeshiva into the regional headquarters of the German Military Police.

The building was not returned to the Jewish community until 2003; it was re-opened in 2007.