From Gazeta Jan 2012
Konstanty Gebert Visited Bay Area and Los Angeles
Konstanty Gebert, scholar in residence at the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland, came to California in February 2012. He was a guest speaker at the Limmud in Los Angeles and had a full schedule of other speaking engagements organized by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture in San Francisco. A journalist, former Solidarity dissident, and a Jewish activist, as well as one of Poland’s notable war correspondents of the Balkan War, Gebert was a leading organizer of the “Jewish Flying University” and founding publisher in 1997 of Midrasz, a Polish-Jewish monthly magazine. He continues to publish a weekly political column in Gazeta Wyborcza.
Chanukah Candles Lighted in the Polish Parliament
A ceremony to light the Chanukah candles took place in the main chamber of the Polish Parliament on December 21, 2011. Participating in the ceremony, along with Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Stambler, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Poland, were Cezary Grabarczyk and Wanda Nowicka, deputy marshals of the Sejm [Parliament], and Bogdan Borusewicz, marshal of the Senate. Mr. Borusewicz commented that “Chanukah denotes the victory of freedom over oppression…a holiday of light and peace.”
Polish-Jewish Dialogue: New Opening
On December 7, 2011, Łazarski University in Warsaw and Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, entitled “Polish-Jewish Dialogue: New Opening.” Topics of discussion included: Is a partnership triangle—Poland, Israel, USA— possible? How do young Poles and Jews view each other? The keynote speaker was Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former president of Poland. Among those participating were Robert Kupiecki, ambassador of Poland to the United States; Michael Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States; Zygmunt Rolat, chairman of The North American Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews; Prof. Samuel Pohoryles, advisor to President of Israel Shimon Peres; Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland; Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak of Beit Warszawa; and Hannah Rosenthal, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
European Rabbis Gather in Warsaw
The Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports that almost 200 chief rabbis from all over Europe held their 27th assembly in Warsaw, beginning on Monday, October 31, 2011. Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt presided. Among the attendees were Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim, Rabbi of Rome Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich, Rabbi of Brussels Albert Guigui and Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger. The rabbis were received by President Bronisław Komorowski and had a welcoming dinner attended by Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, president of Warsaw; Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former prime minister; and Władysław Bartoszewski, former foreign minister—known for his wartime involvement in the underground organization to save Jews (Żegota). Among the topics discussed at the assembly was the recent controversy about the Jewish ritual animal slaughter shechita. On June 2011, the lower chamber of the Dutch Parliament voted to ban ritual slaughter, specifying that livestock must be stunned before being slaughtered unless one can prove that the animal will not suffer any more than by stunning. This is deemed to be impossible to prove. Also discussed were the rules for validating Jewish identity of people whose families had not practiced Judaism in two or three generations. This is clearly an issue applicable to many people in Poland who are only now discovering their Jewish roots. The event was the largest such gathering since World War II and was seen as an indication of the rebirth of Jewish life in Poland.
American Jews Decorated by President Komorowski
On September 22, 2011, during his visit to New York, President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski decorated a number of American residents who have contributed to Polish causes. Among the 27 recipients of medals were several people active in Polish-Jewish matters. Receiving the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland was Prof. Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University. Receiving the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland were: Simon Bergson, president of the board of the Auschwitz Jewish Center; Dr. Julian Bussgang, co-editor of Gazeta; Luna Kaufman, author; Masha Leon, columnist for Forward; Dr. David G. Marwell, director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York; Rabbi Arthur Schneier of Park East Synagogue, founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation; Dr. Simon Schochet, historian; and Ruth Ellen Gruber, writer and reporter.
Jagiellonian University to Offer Masters Degree in Holocaust Studies
Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, is pleased to announce that the Jagiellonian University has introduced a Masters Program in Holocaust Studies. It will be a joint program of the Center for Holocaust Studies and the Institute for European Studies at the Jagiellonian University. This pioneer program is the first of its kind in Poland, and its inaugural class already has 22 students enrolled. In addition, the Center for Holocaust Studies has added a course on the Holocaust for medical students at the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum, which has already exceeded its enrollment and has a long waiting list. For more information, please contact: Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, Director, Center for Holocaust Studies, Jagiellonian University, ul. Jodłowa 13, Krakow 30-252, Poland.
The Association of the “Children of the Holocaust” in Poland, headquartered in Warsaw, set up a new association called Drugie Pokolenie [Second Generation]. As the survivors are getting older, they wish to reach out to the children of their children, a practice being followed in the United States and other countries as well. The second generation, certainly affected by their parents’ experiences, find it meaningful to share their thoughts with others with similar backgrounds. The address of the new Polish association is: Stowarzyszenie Drugie Pokolenie, ul. Twarda 6, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland.