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Rescue the Surviving SoulsThe Great Jewish Refugee Crisis of the Seventeenth Century$
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Adam Teller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161747

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161747.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Rescue the Surviving Souls

Adam Teller

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the refugee crisis that occurred in the mid-seventeenth century, when a huge wave of Jewish refugees and forced migrants from eastern Europe spread across the Jewish communities of Europe and Asia. Destitute, often traumatized by their experiences, and lacking any means of support, these refugees posed a huge social, economic, and ethical challenge to the Jewish world of their day. Communities across that world, touched by the crisis, answered this challenge in unprecedented ways and, both individually and jointly, began to organize relief for the Polish–Lithuanian Jews wherever they now found themselves. This book examines this refugee crisis in detail. At its heart are three major questions. The first asks how Jewish society reacted to the persecution and violence suffered by the Jews of Poland–Lithuania. The second question asks about the character of the relationship between the various Jewish communities that cooperated to help the refugees. The third question deals with how the nature of the refugee crisis in the seventeenth century may have something to contribute to the ways in which people understand the history of refugee issues in general.

Keywords:   refugee crisis, Jewish refugees, forced migrants, Jewish communities, Polish–Lithuanian Jews, Jewish society, refugee issues

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