Just to kick-start it a little: Here an interesting tid-bit I learned this morning. I was looking up information on Jews from Galitzia (Galitzianers) and in Wikipedia read this:
In 1773, Galicia had about 2.6 million inhabitants in 280 cities and market towns and approx. 5 500 villages...So, several interesting things here:
No country of the Austrian monarchy had such a varied ethnic mix as Galicia: Poles, Ukrainians, Jews, Germans, Armenians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Roma, etc.
The Jews of Galicia had immigrated in the Middle Ages from Germany...
Poles were Roman Catholic, the Ruthenians (or Rusyn, now mostly calling themselves Ukrainians) belonged to Byzantine-Slavonic Greek Catholic Church. The Jews represented the third largest religious group, who kept mostly strictly their rabbinical faith.
The average life expectancy was 27 years for men and 28.5 years for women....
1. The Jews were the third largest religious group in the region,
2. The Jews living in Galitzia were mostly religious Jews observing rabbinical Judaism,
3. Life must have been terribly hard, with an average life span of 27-28 years.
Is it significant that the Orthodox Jewish way of life may have taken form at a time when people had a drastically shorter lifespan? If you had only 28 years to live, certainly that would affect your approach to religion, to marriage and family, to education.
That average life span noted in Wikipedia is the average for all people of the region. Did Jews live longer due to better health habits (eating Kosher, washing hands, etc.)? I wonder. There must be some records that still exist. It would be an interesting area for research.
While poking around on the Internet, I found this moving and disturbing, detailed book on Jewish life in Korczyna, Poland. Sigh. These stories all end the same way, and that's the sad thing. But at least we are here today to look back.
P.S. I notice that comments are not working on this blog. I will contact Chaim about that.
P.S.S. With Chaim's approval, I updated this blog to Blogger II. Changed the template but kept the beautiful header. Comments are working now. It's a new year!