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2011 Consular Report
2011 REPORT OF HONORARY CONSUL
FOR THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
THADDEUS N. TAUBE
January 5, 2012
I am proud to report on my fourth year of service in the post of Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland. It is truly a privilege to serve the country of my birth and my adoptive home. Both of my parents and their ancestors lived in Poland, with family lineages reaching back several centuries in time. My parents brought me to the United States on the eve of World War II. It is here in America that I have spent the majority of my life. But both countries have always been special to me, and I am proud to act as a conduit between the two nations.
This report includes:
- Overview of 2011 major goals and activities accomplished
- Month-by-month report on the most important Consular activities
- Projected goals and activities for 2012
The year 2011 marked the 22nd anniversary of the fall of Communism and the victory of democracy in Poland and throughout East and Central Europe. Poland's political and economic development in one generation's time is phenomenal. In my travels between the United States and Poland, I am proud to witness a growing willingness on the part of Americans to reconsider their perceptions of Poland and its progress as a diplomatic ally of the United States. Many Americans had written Poland off in the aftermath of the Holocaust and during the Communist era, but today, there is a noticeable shift in American opinion and an interest in visiting the country and experiencing its culture. More than 200,000 Americans are now making the journey to Poland. I aim, in my role as Honorary Consul, to further this positive shift in public attitudes and also to help interested individuals and groups to visit there.
Hence, my goals as Honorary Consul are to:
- Advocate the economic and cultural interests of the Polish people, the Polish government and Polonia with respect to the U.S. government, state and local governments and the greater diplomatic community of the San Francisco Bay Area, and between American people and their enterprises.
- Promote Polish culture and celebrate Polish historical anniversaries in the United States.
- Serve the Polish American community in my designated region and in the United States in general.
- Strengthen relationships between Polish and Jewish Americans and Christian and Jewish Poles.
- Aid visiting Polish citizens who may have legal or medical problems due to, for example, loss of documents, being a victim of theft or having a physical accident while traveling.
Office and Administration
Our office is established at 1050 Ralston Avenue, in Belmont. Here, in San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area, I meet with community members, diplomats and Polish visitors to the area.
My Consular office cooperates closely with Christopher Kerosky, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in San Francisco, with whom we coordinate and cosponsor a number of activities.
Polish studies scholar Shana Penn, who oversees my family foundation and has a well-established reputation in both the Polish American community and Polish society, handles academic, educational, cultural and some diplomatic matters for my Consular office. She also networks with the Polish community in the Bay Area and throughout the US. Ms. Penn's research and involvements with PAHA, PIAST, AAASS, and other professional associations enable her to stay abreast of major intellectual and social currents that may influence or inform the Bay Area's Polish community.
Mary Kay Stuvland has joined me as a deputy in my Consular office and represents me in meetings. Ms. Stuvland is the Artistic Director and Choreographer for the Łowiczanie Polish Folk Dance Ensemble, and for her efforts on behalf of the Polonia community has been awarded the prestigious “Amicus Poloniae” and the "Pro Memoria" bestowed by the Republic of Poland.
Summary of Activities
1. Relations with the Consulate in Los Angeles
I am in regular communication with the Honorable Joanna Kozińska-Frybes, Polish Consul General at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, Los Angeles, and her staff, including Malgorzata Cup, Consul for Culture, Press, Education and Polish Community. With their invaluable guidance, my Consular office and I carry out our goals and activities in the Bay Area and in service of sister activities in Los Angeles.
2. Relations with the Consular Corps and Local Government Officials
My Consular office and I attend the meetings of the Consular Corps. On September 7, Consular deputy Mary Kay Stuvland was my representative at the Consular Corps Luncheon held at the Fairmont Hotel. The program, entitled, “The European Union: A Briefing on Current Affairs,” was led by Dr. Beverly Crawford and Professor Jeffrey Pennington, Co-Directors, EU Center of Excellence, UC Berkeley.
3. Relations with US Government Offices
Communication with California Government Officials
I am in communication with the new mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Edwin Lee. The governor of California, Jerry Brown, is a long-time friend. I know all of the congressional representatives and the State of California’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom. Mrs. Taube and I also attended the Consular Christmas Party hosted by Mayor Edwin Lee at San FranciscoCity Hall on December 7.
Annual Flag Raising Ceremony
On May 6, my Consulate and I participated in the Flag Raising Ceremony and Polish Constitution Day at City Hall in San Francisco. Mayor Lee’s Chief of Staff Steven Kawa and Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz co-hosted the ceremony. The event was co-organized by myself and Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky together with Bay Area leaders of Polish-American groups. Over 40 people attended the morning program.
Visa Waiver Program
In coordination with Honorary Consul Kerosky, I meet and correspond with local authorities and institutions as relevant within my consular work. Of utmost priority is advocacy for the Visa Waiver Program. The bill to restructure the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to enable Polish citizens to enter without a visa is entitled “Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Program Act of 2011 (S. 497/H.R. 959).” President Obama released an official statement supporting S. 497/H.R. 959 on May 27, 2011, shortly after his May visit to Poland. Throughout the year, I and Consul Kerosky have pointed to this official endorsement in our own communications with key parties both in the US and in Poland. Poland has supported the US in its counterterrorism efforts, and deserves to join the over 30 countries belonging to the VWP. The argument that this is due to the visa denial rate is antiquated, especially as Poland’s economy continues to strengthen.
On my behalf, my Consular deputy Shana Penn had pertinent meetings in Washington, DC, in September regarding efforts on the Hill and in the White House to eliminate the visa for Poland, including with the Polish Ambassador, Robert Kupiecki; the Embassy’s Political Director, Marcin Knapp; the Embassy’s Polish-Jewish Relations Director, Witold Dzielski; Craig Kennedy, Executive Director of the German Marshall Fund; Steven Rademaker, lobbyist with the Tony Podesta Group; and Mark Levin, Executive Director of NCSJ. I also communicated with Arie Zweig in Chicago, who is collaborating with his region’s Consul General on this issue.
On December 7, I requested a meeting with Senator Dianne Feinstein regarding the visa waiver. It is anticipated the meeting will take place the next time Senator Feinstein visits San Francisco.
4. Relations with Educational and Governmental Institutions
Dr. Marek Belka, President of the Polish National Bank, Visits the San FranciscoBay Area
On August 29, I hosted a luncheon at the Hoover Institution, where I am a trustee, for Dr. Marek Belka, former Polish Finance Minister and current President of the Polish National Bank. Dr. Belka also made presentations at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and at a private reception hosted by the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association. In each venue, Belka spoke about the role of the Euro zone and Poland’s role in the European economy.
Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, Visits the San FranciscoBay Area
On November 28-9, my Consulate hosted the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich. Rabbi Schudrich led a discussion about contemporary Polish Jewish life at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on November 28. Over 50 community members attended. On November 29, Rabbi Schudrich was the keynote speaker at a conference entitled “Formations of Orthodoxy” at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, co-sponsored by the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association’s Religious Affairs Committee, led by Dr. James Donahue, President of the Graduate Theological Union. The conference was standing-room only.
Poland 500 Innovators Program at StanfordUniversity
On October 16, I was honored to address the inaugural “Poland 500 Innovators Program” at StanfordUniversity. Financed by the Polish Government and US Embassy in Poland, the first group of 50 participants from Poland came to Stanford in the spirit of intellectual rigor, entrepreneurship, and cross-cultural collaboration to meet with researchers and academics in the science and engineering industries from Stanford and the surrounding Silicon Valley.
I noted in my welcome remarks that, “It is time for Poland to step up and attain a higher level of innovation that is comparable with its exceptionally strong economy, stable democracy, and leadership role in the European Union. The Polish Government has recognized this need, and seeks to increase innovation through such programs as the ‘Poland 500.’ This program will foster connections between the US and Poland’s most respected scientists and researchers, and allow for collaborations that will take Poland’s innovations to the next level. By the end of 2015, approximately 500 scientists, academic-research workers or innovators will have traveled to the US to participate in these internships and trainings. I hope to see generations of collaborations initiated by this program.”
On December 13, I attended the closing event of the Top 500 Innovators program. It culminated in a lecture at the Hoover Institution by Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland, Secretary of State, Professor Maria Elzbieta Orlowska, with myself and Malgorzata Cup, Consul for Culture, Press, Education and Polish Community at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, Los Angeles. The event was held at the Stanford University Faculty Club.
Meeting with Council Member and Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation
On December 2, my Consular deputy Shana Penn met with Jozef Wancer, Council member and Chairman of the Financial Commission of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, and Jacek Kastelaniec, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, to discuss the AuschwitzStateMuseum and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.
EU Ministers and Trade Officials Delegation to San Francisco
On December 8, my Consular office helped organize a delegation of 15 Ministers and Trade Officials from of all the EU countries. The Polish Embassy headed the delegation and asked myself and Consul Kerosky to assist in the planning for the visit with the San Francisco Mayor's Office of International Trade and Commerce.
USC Shoah Foundation Institute
My Consular office is involved with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute in their digitization of an extensive library of Holocaust testimonies made and housed in the San Francisco Bay Area.
5. Sister Cities Initiative
I am very proud to report that in collaboration with Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky, we actively promote the two and one-half year old Sister Cities relationship between Kraków and San Francisco. The relationship, which I initiated in July 2007, was discussed between the two Mayors, their offices and our Consular offices over 18 months. In May 2009, the agreements were prepared and were officially signed in Kraków by Mayor Jacek Majchrowski and, representing Mayor Gavin Newsom, Consul Kerosky and myself, on July 1, 2009. The San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities relationship is the first such Eastern European relationship for San Francisco.
Consul Kerosky and I have formed a nonprofit organization, called the San Francisco- Kraków Sister Cities Association, which we are co-chairing. We created a Board, Advisory Council and Committees on Media and Community Relations, Advanced Technologies, Education, Commerce, Art and Culture, Traditional Art, Religious Affairs, and Political and Legal Affairs. We co-hosted several events in 2011, a selection of which appear at the end of this report, entitled “Month by Month Report for the Year 2011.”
Please visit our official San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Website at: http://sfkrakow.org.
5. Media Relations
I continue to publish Opinion Editorials in mainstream, Polish and Jewish press in the Bay Area and internationally including the Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and the Jewish Weekly of Northern California on a range of topics that promote the New Poland. Here is a list of 2011 publications:
Op-Eds published in 2011:
• JTA, March 11, 2011, “Op-Ed: A Changed Poland Is Israel’s Good Friend.”
• Jewish Journal, April 26, 2011, “We Were Not Alone,” (On Irena Sendler).
Ads co-published by my Foundation in 2011:
• Forward, April 2011, “National PBS Premiere: Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers.”
• LA Jewish Journal, April 2011, “National PBS Premiere: Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers.”
• JWeekly, June 2011, “Matisyahu Receives Koret Taube Jewish Peoplehood Award.”
• JWeekly, June 2011, “Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska Receives Irena Sendler Memorial Award.”
• Commentary, June 2011, “Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska Receives Irena Sendler Memorial Award.”
Ads published about my Consulate and Foundation’s programming in 2011:
• JWeekly, August 4, 2011, “Marin JCC’s Trip to Poland with Taube Tours,” co-published by Taube Foundation.
Articles published about my Consulate and Foundation’s programming in 2012:
• JWeekly, January 5, 2012, “After Saving Jews, Polish Hero Discovers Own Jewish Roots,” (Vanessa Gera); on the Taube Foundation’s 2011 Irena Sendler Memorial Award honoree, Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska.
Interviews and Profiles in 2011:
• San Francisco Chronicle, March 13, 2011, “Tad Taube Escaped Nazis, Created Own Empire,” (Meredith May).
• Philanthropy Roundtable, November 2011, “Forum on International Giving.”
Awards Given by my Foundation in 2011:
• Koret Taube Jewish Peoplehood Award
2011 Recipient: Matisyahu (June 19, 2011)
• Irena Sendler Memorial Award
2011 Recipient: Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska (June 28, 2011)
Irena Sendler Film Premieres on PBS
The documentary Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers, produced by San Francisco filmmaker Mary Skinner, had its US premiere broadcast on National PBS on Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1, 2011. I introduced the film to the San Francisco PBS station, which coordinated the national broadcast, financed with a lead gift from my foundation. The film reached 3.2 million households and was shown 790 times between May 1 and June 1, 2011. The DVD was released in June and is widely available, including through pbs.org. It has won “Best Feature Documentary” at the UK Jewish Film Festival 2010, and was an official selection at Cinequest 2011, San Jose, CA; Athens International Film Festival 2011; and the Staten Island Film Festival 2011. Its screenings have traveled widely in the US, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and Poland, where it was a featured film at the 21st annual Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków.
Editing Project on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw
At the request of Sebastian Rejak of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw, my Consular staff edited an essay by Andrzej Żbikowski, entitled “Anti-Semitism, Extortion against Jews, Collaboration with Germans, and Polish-Jewish Relations under German Occupation,” which will appear in the forthcoming collection of essays entitled, “Inferno of Choices: Poles and the Holocaust,” edited by Mr. Rejak.
7. Cultural and Educational Community Events
I support a diverse range of cultural, civic and educational activities in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Poland that help promote Polish history, culture and society. Events include art exhibitions, academic symposia, and publishing and the arts.
Arthur Szyk Art Exhibitions
December 2010 marked the opening of a 4-month exhibition of the drawings and illustrations of Arthur Szyk at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. Szyk, a native of Łódź, is a renowned artist in both the US and Poland, celebrated for the political and social commitment in his work and his attention to coloristic effects and details. I was pleased to co-sponsor this important exhibit, which extended until March 2011. Reproductions of the original artworks in this exhibit opened in June 2011 at the Stradom Dialogue Center in Kraków and are now showing at the Poznański Palace in Łódz.
Milken Institute Global Conference, “The Culture and Economy of the New Poland.”
On May 3, I joined keynote speaker President Aleksander Kwaśniewski in making presentations at a private roundtable discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles entitled “The Culture and Economy of the New Poland.” Other presenters included Irene Pletka, Distinguished Benefactor of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and Founding Chairman of the Kronhill Pletka Foundation; and Dr. Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Taube Foundation Board Member. Panelists discussed the Museum’s importance in Poland’s cultural and economic development.
Irena Sendler Memorial Award
On May 12, 2011, my Consulate announced the recipient of the fourth annual Irena Sendler Memorial Award. The award is granted to a non-Jewish Pole who has worked to preserve Jewish heritage in Poland, in memory of the late Irena Sendler. This year’s recipient was Magdalena Grodzka-Gużkowska, a Polish resistance fighter who, working with Irena Sendler, rescued Jewish children in World War II.
The award was presented in person to Ms. Grodzka-Gużkowska on June 28, 2011 at the Nożyk Synagogue in Warsaw by Shana Penn, Executive Director of the Taube Foundation, and Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland. In announcing the award, I said, “Magda exemplifies all that this award was meant to honor. Her selfless bravery as she worked alongside Irena Sendler enabled thousands of Jewish children to survive. Who can count the descendants directly attributable to her heroism?”
Poland’s President Bronisław Komorowski thanked her for her courageous service in a letter read at the ceremony by a presidential representative: “By helping Jews condemned to death you gave powerful testimony to the fact that even in the cruelest time, marked by the shadow of the Holocaust, man is capable of heroic acts, full of brotherly love and generosity. This is a magnificent example of the readiness to serve one’s fellow men, those who are weaker and in need, even at the risk of one’s own life. Poland may be proud of having such citizens.”
Participating in the award ceremony, US Ambassador to Poland Lee Feinstein spoke, “Pani Magda’s selfless bravery reflects humanity at its best. It also shows the reality of Poland today – a democratic society built on the foundations of mutual respect and tolerance. Pani Magda, we thank you for your compassion, your heroism, and your humanity. You inspire us.” The ceremony was attended by over 100 people and reported in the Polish and international media.
President Bronisław Komorowski, in his role as honorary patron of the 21st annual Kraków Jewish Culture Festival, published welcome remarks in the Festival’s Catalogue of Events which extolled the Taube Foundation’s presentation ceremony of the 2011 Irena Sendler Memorial Award: “I was particularly pleased to see that the Festival’s program includes the showing of the film Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers, and the ceremony of the presentation of the Irena Sendler Memorial Award by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture. My warmest congratulations go to those awarded. Let me note that memory of the Polish Righteous is and will continue to be an element shaping our shared historical memory.”
On June 30, there was a screening of Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers at the Kraków Jewish Culture Festival.
Matisyahu Receives Koret Taube Jewish Peoplehood Award
Matisyahu, the legendary Hasidic reggae musician, fuses religious observance and Judaism’s hazzan style of prayer with a contemporary mix of rap, beat-box and hip-hop. On June 19, 2011, the Taube and Koret Foundations presented him with the Inaugural Jewish Peoplehood Award during a standing-room-only performance in the Nożyk Synagogue.
Before receiving his award and giving his concert at the Nożyk, Matisyahu also gave a concert in Oświęcim, where thousands of fans packed a stadium located not far from Auschwitz-Birkenau. The concert was part of a series aimed at fighting racism, anti-Semitism, and intolerance. The concerts drew large numbers of young people, bringing a message of the revival of Jewish life into a space equated with unfathomable death and loss.
Matisyahu said of his performances in Poland, “There were a lot of survivors there, it was very intense, emotionally for me…I was very surprised to see and to know that Polish people knew my music.”
Witold-K Art Retrospective at the OświęcimCultural Centre
On October 15, US Consul Allen Greenberg attended the major art exhibition by Polish-born American artist and my lifelong friend, Witold-K, which opened at the Oświęcim Cultural Centre. The exhibition, entitled "From Little People to Black Holes," ran from October 15 to November 6, 2011 at the Cultural Centre’s "Tyle Swiatow" Gallery. The exhibition was comprised of 40 original works and featured his painting from the early days to the present, 1961-2011.
In 1960, Witold served as co-designer of the Oświęcim Cultural Centre’s architecture and in 1961, he painted one of the largest frescoes in Poland on the ceiling of the theater auditorium, in memory of the victims of Hitler’s death machine. The exhibition showing was organized to honor the 50th anniversary of Witold’s painting of the fresco and his enduring relationship with the Oświęcim Cultural Centre.
US Consul General Allen Greenberg led the exhibition’s opening ceremonies to welcome Witold and his artworks back to Poland. This occasion marked the first time that an American artist (albeit Polish-born) has been invited to exhibit a one-man show at the Cultural Centre.
Lectures given by Shana Penn, my Consular Deputy:
February 17, 2011
“Women in the Solidarity Movement”
Co-sponsors: YaleUniversity and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York
February 22, 2011
"Patient Revolution: The Hidden History of Women's Leadership in Poland's Solidarity Movement"
April 7-8, 2011
Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw
“A Comparative Look at Women in Czechoslovak and Polish Anti-Communist Opposition Movements, 1968-1989”
May 12, 2011
Chicago Cultural Center
Polish Consulate of Chicago, PolishMuseum of America, Polish American Congress, LoyolaUniversityCollege of Arts and Sciences, Polish American Students Network, Chicago Sister Cities International, KFAR Jewish ArtsCenter
"How Jewish Life Came Back to Poland after 1968, and the Role of Philanthropy in Today's Cultural Revival"
July 8, 2011
Institute of National Remembrance, Bialystok
“A Comparative Look at Women in Czechoslovak and Polish Anti-Communist Opposition Movements, 1968-1989”
November 2, 2011
New Eastern Europe Journal, Kraków
“Virtual Tourism: American Jewish Youth Travel to Poland”
Presentation of Sculpture to President Lech Wałęsa
On behalf of myself and the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association, my Consular deputy, Shana Penn, presented Lech Wałęsa with a crystal sculpture of the San Francisco Skyline and Golden GateBridge at his foundation office in Warsaw in November.
8. Enhance Jewish-Polish relations
I am committed to strengthening relations between Polish and Jewish Americans and between Christian and Jewish Poles, working closely with the Honorary Consul of San Francisco, and engaging the cooperation of the Hoover Institution, Graduate Theological Union, Polish Radio, the Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, and the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco to help cosponsor public events. Here are areas of my activity in the realm of Jewish-Polish relations:
Taube Jewish Heritage Tours
I am proud to be a cofounder of Taube Jewish Heritage Tours, which commenced in Spring 2008. Taube Jewish Heritage Tours offers customized itineraries, intellectually stimulating experiences and spiritually uplifting heritage tours of Jewish Poland to people of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in learning more about Polish Jewish heritage, their own family histories, and the current revival of Jewish life and culture in Poland. Tours include visits to Poland’s historical sites such as Wawel Castle and the Salt Mines; participation in genealogical field research about family histories; celebrations of religious and secular traditions; meetings with Polish politicians, community leaders and the media; and outings to cultural events and historic commemorations such as the annual April 19th ceremony honoring the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
In order to facilitate and grow the cultural tourism program, the Taube Foundation is preparing a Field Guide to Jewish Heritage Tours in Poland. The Field Guide is integral to the Taube Tourism Program to present an empowering and accurate narrative of Polish Jewish heritage; to facilitate cross-cultural encounters; to teach and to generate public discourse about the role of Polish Jews in the shaping of modern Jewish identity and culture; and to connect the Jews of Poland to pan-European Jewry and, more broadly, to Israel and world Jewry. The Field Guide will help visitors answer vital questions of collective and personal identity, such as: Who are we, and where do we come from? Why is Jewish renewal in Poland a cause for hope and celebration? How can we reconnect global Jewry to our Ashkenazi birthright in meaningful ways?
Examples of Taube Jewish Heritage Tourism in 2011:
Osher Marin Jewish Community Center Trip to Poland
From June 26-July 3, my Consulate and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture led the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center on a heritage tour of Poland to mark the 22nd anniversary of the 1989 fall of Communism, the birth of democracy, and the renewal of Jewish life. There was much to celebrate on this journey: the second anniversary of the Sister Cities relationship between Kraków and San Francisco; the continued progress in the construction of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews on the sacred site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; and the success of programs in heritage preservation, Jewish studies, genealogy and cultural tourism, youth and adult education, and cultural innovations such as the stunning Galicia Jewish Museum sponsored by the Taube Foundation.
The Osher Marin Jewish Community Center participants spent seven days exploring the revival of Jewish life and culture in Warsaw and Kraków, meeting with key figures such as the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich; US Ambassador Lee Feinstein; US Consul General to Poland Allen Greenberg; and the director of the JCC Kraków, Jonathan Ornstein. The group was excited to experience the 21st Annual Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków, and to attend a standing-room-only Shabbat dinner organized by the Kraków JCC. Susan and Joe Berland, two of the participants, waxed rhapsodic: “It was profound and moving to experience the present flourishing of interest in Jewish culture in Poland. The people we met through the Taube Foundation and the events at the Jewish Culture Festival were all fantastic!”
The Bureau of Jewish Education’s Shalhevet Program
The Bureau of Jewish Education’s Shalhevet – meaning “flame” in Hebrew— is unique among educational teen travel programs to Poland and Israel. It is much more than a trip; it is built around a comprehensive educational curriculum that fully engages the participants prior to the trip and includes extensive follow-up upon return. The five-month program includes an in-depth study of Eastern European Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the founding of the State of Israel. A major focus of the Shalhevet program is experiential: participants explore the revitalization of Polish Jewish life and discover Israel through a variety of activities.
Underlying every stage of the program is a focus on Jewish identity, the interconnectedness of the worldwide Jewish community, and the importance of the Jewish values that help young people become more fully engaged in Jewish life and responsible citizens of the world.
During the two-week tour to Poland and Israel this past spring, supported in part by the Taube Foundation, Shalhevet’s curriculum was brought to life, and the teen participants engaged with their Polish and Israeli peers. They graduated with a new set of tools, enabling them to take on leadership roles in the Jewish community with a deepened connection to the Jewish people.
NCSJ and Hillel at Stanford
In March of 2011, NCSJ, an advocate for Jewish communities in the successor states of the former Soviet Union, in collaboration with the StanfordUniversity and Moscow Hillels, led a group of young adults on an 8-day seminar in both Moscow and Warsaw. The Jewish peers explored the similarities and differences in processes of democracy building and its impact on Jewish identity and Jewish life in those communities.
In Warsaw, the students toured Jewish Warsaw, visited the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, met with Polish Jewish peers and ZOOM (Polish Jewish Student and Youth Association) filmmakers, visited the Lauder-Morasha School, had the opportunity to speak with Polish Jewish media, Forum for Dialogue Among the Nations tolerance educators, representatives from Moishe House, and Solidarity activist and leader of the Jewish Flying University, Konstanty Gebert, and enjoyed Shabbat with Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich.
The students expressed amazement at the transformation of their perceptions of Jewish life in Poland. Jacob Portes from Stanford University Hillel observed, “In Jewish day school and at home, I was never taught to think of Poland as more than a cemetery for millions of Jews. To see a functioning, modern European society was a nice shock to the system, and I left optimistic about Poland. It was especially nice to spend time with people from the Jewish community, and to really feel their energy and optimism.” Yael Wulfovich from Stanford University Hillel said, “I went to Poland exactly one year ago on the March of the Living and I hated it. I thought it was grey, a land of ashes. This trip completely changed my perspective. I learned that even after the Holocaust, life remains, and a Jewish community is slowly but surely blooming.”
Experiencing the revival of Jewish life in Poland with their Jewish peers was a meaningful experience that the students will never forget. The trip accomplished NCSJ’s goal of fostering a future generation of international Jewish leaders. This annual trip is supported, in part, by the Taube Foundation.
Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
The Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center (JG&FHC), supported by my foundation, is of critical importance to the Polish and Jewish Diasporas. The JG&FHC’s newly created and continually expanding database combines the vast collections of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute with other genealogical resources, providing a new tool for individual and academic research.
The Center is interactive. Not only do clients get answers to their questions, they are encouraged to share their own materials with the Center. The sole evidence of a family, event or institution is often not found in archives, but in private hands. Such items reflect the fate of families, teaching us in an intimate way about the major trends in Polish Jewish history and bringing that history to life. Thus, the Center also helps recover Polish Jewry’s and Poland’s lost memory. This is a valuable educational resource for diaspora communities to learn about and connect with their family histories and heritage in Poland, and I actively encourage use of it by my Bay Area constituency.
The Center’s next step is to create an interactive website to increase global accessibility to the world’s most extensive collection of historical archives of the Jewish people in Eastern Europe.
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw
I am proud to be a Distinguished Benefactor of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Museum, rising up on the historic site of the Warsaw Ghetto, is well on its way to completion, with fundraising efforts spearheaded by the Taube Foundation via the principle of collaborative funding. Designed by the Finnish architectural firm Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma, the Museum is scheduled to open on the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 19, 2013. Now, finally, the legacy of East European Jewry will be able to be explored in the very place where this history unfolded.
When completed, this stunning, state-of-the-art Jewish museum will be on a par with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel’s Yad Vashem. The key difference is that the Museum of the History of Polish Jews will extend the historical narrative beyond the Holocaust to encompass an epic Jewish history that even today shapes contemporary Israeli and American Jewish life.
Please see the Museum’s website for a detailed account of the progress of the Museum:
9. Publications/Educational Resources
New Publications co-published by the Honorary Consulate
Journal: Deep Roots, New Branches: Personal Essays on the Rebirth of Jewish Life in Poland Since 1989
In November, the Honorary Consulate for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture were proud to present a newly revised journal commemorating the victory of Democracy over Communism: Deep Roots, New Branches: Personal Essays on the Rebirth of Jewish Life in Poland Since 1989.
Historical Timeline: 1,000 Years of Jewish Life in Poland
In November, the Honorary Consulate for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture published a newly expanded 1,000 Years of Jewish Life in Poland: A Timeline. In appreciation of the millennium of Jewish history and accomplishments in Poland, the Honorary Consul and the Taube Foundation assembled and updated an authoritative timeline of the significant events of Jewish life in Poland, so often limited in modern-day sensibilities as exclusively the site of the Holocaust.
The timeline was originally compiled by Konstanty Gebert, scholar-in-residence of Centrum Taubego in Warsaw (the Polish office of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture). Beginning with the arrival of Abraham ben Yaakov in the year 960, the timeline follows the rich and complex Jewish history in Poland through the centuries up to the present day.
The Journal and Timeline are both available on the Taube Foundation website and are now being sold at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków, and at select bookstores in Poland. A Polish-language version is being prepared for release.
Distribution of the Journal and Timeline:
Per request of the Polish Ambassador in Washington, DC, and the Polish Consul General in Los Angeles, my Consular office carried out a distribution plan of the Journal and Timeline to ensure that multiple copies would be available at the Polish Embassy and Consulates in the US, as well as at the US Embassy in Poland and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A minimum of 35 copies were sent to each institution. My Consulate will follow up with these institutions to see how these publications have been used and if the institutions require more copies.
Gazeta, Quarterly Newsletter of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies
The American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies (AAPJS) is a sister organization of the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies in Oxford, England. They were established in 1984 to preserve the history of Polish Jewry on an international basis; disseminate the results of this research by means of publications, lectures, conferences, seminars and documentary films; and focus attention of the American and world public on what is most significant and precious in this legacy of Polish Jewry.
Gazeta, the quarterly newsletter of the AAPJS, is supported by the Taube Foundation in three ways: contribution of articles about my activities and those of my foundation that foster the ongoing and rich connection with Poland; submission of names of friends and associates in the Bay Area for enlarging their subscription outreach; and direct support of the publication through an annual grant.
Activities of my Consulate are regularly reported in the publication, including activities of the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association. My Consulate disseminates the publication both to Polish and Jewish American community leaders.
Worlds Lost and Gained: A Polish-American Journey
This August, it was my pleasure to publish a photo history of my ancestral lineage in Torun, Lwów, Kraków and Warsaw and my family’s journey from Poland to America. Using precious photographs carefully conserved by my mother, the photo history documents my parents’ flight from the Nazis, their struggles and well-deserved successes in America. It then covers my early experiences in America and concludes with my current activities in Poland, including my role as Honorary Consul. This book is a tribute to my parents and to Poland, and preserves the cultural memory captured by these photographs for generations to come. I plan to publish a sequel to this book documenting the later years of my professional and personal life and focusing more fully on my philanthropic and diplomatic work in Poland.
MONTH-BY-MONTH REPORT FOR THE YEAR 2011
January 18-19: San Jose film screening of The Way Back, a film directed by Academy Award Winner, Peter Weir. The film tells the story of seven Polish prisoners deported to Siberia and their escape from a Soviet Gulag in 1940.
February 1: CBC Interview with author of Bloodlands, Timothy Snyder, who reflected on the tragedy caused by the Nazi and Soviet regimes in which 14 million people were killed.
February 2: The Polish Club of San Francisco hosted “Polish Movie Night” which was organized by Poland in the Rockies participant, Joasia Szupinska. Polish Movie Night’s featured film was The Theater of Tadeusz Kantor.
February 10: Grzegorz Kolodko, former Finance Minister and Deputy Premier of Poland, gave a lecture at UC Berkeley entitled: “Truth, Errors, and Lies: Politics and Economics in a Volatile World.”
February 20: Rafał Blechacz Chamber Music Concert at Herbst Theater, San Francisco.
February 24: JagiellonianUniversity professor Jonathan Webber gave a lecture entitled “Making Sense of the Auschwitz Site Today” at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. Dr. Webber is also a member of the International Auschwitz Council.
March 3-4: Agata Zubel, composer and vocalist, featured at the Other Minds Festival of New Music at Kanbar Hall in San Francisco.
March 17: San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities President, John Henry Fullen, gave a presentation on the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association at the Fishermen’s Wharf Rotary Club.
March 25: The Commercial, Investment and Economic Development Committee held a reception for visiting colleagues from Kraków. In attendance were Mr. Krzysztof Kryzsztofiak, President of the Board of the Malopolska Regional Development Agency, and Mr. Dawid Jarosz, Foreign Direct Investment.
March 25: Dinner to honor the Polish Government Delegation at the Global Technology Symposium (GTS), including a delegation of Polish government regional authorities, academia and business representatives. The GTS is the leading investment conference on venture capital, technology, and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Since 2004, the Symposium has brought more than 300 selected opinion leaders in business, finance, technology, and policymaking to Silicon Valley, where they share insights into the opportunities and challenges of globalization.
March 26: The US-Polish Trade Council hosted “Poland Day,” a half-day seminar associated with the Global Technology Symposium. The event focused on business investments and the relationship between Silicon Valley and Poland.
April 8: Polish American Engineers Club Dinner and Meeting with Polish Economic Mission represented by President of the Polish Chamber of Commerce, Andrzej Arendarski, and President of Polish Agency of Enterprise Development, Bozena Lublinska-Kasprzak.
April 8: The award winning film, Rozyczka/The Little Rose, directed by Jan Kidawa-Blonski, was shown at the Tiburon International Film Festival.
April 10: My Consular deputy Shana Penn met with the Deputy Minister of Culture, Piotr Zuchowski.
April 16: Shabbat Dinner at the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, San Francisco, honoring the participants in the Next Chapter Project, a program linking Bay Area Holocaust survivors with teenagers, creating a bridge between the Bay Area and contemporary Poland through research provided by the Warsaw Jewish Historical Institute, the Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center and the Taube Foundation’s Jewish Heritage Initiative in Poland.
May 1: The Beatification of Pope John Paul II Celebration took place at the Cathedral of St. Mary in San Francisco and included a multi-national procession, celebrated mass and reception, screening of the film “Nine Days that Changed the World,” and a Gala Dinner at Indigo Restaurant.
May 1: Nationwide premiere on PBS of film by noted San Francisco filmmaker Mary Skinner, Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers (see “5. Media Relations”).
May 3: Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles. I participated in the private roundtable, entitled “The Culture and Economy of the New Poland” (see “7. Cultural and Educational Community Events”).
May 6: Flag Raising Ceremony and Polish Constitution Day at City Hall in San Francisco (see “3. Relations with US Government Offices”).
May 12: Announcement of the fourth annual Irena Sendler Memorial Award (see “7. Cultural and Educational Community Events”).
June 26-July 3: I and my Foundation led the Marin Jewish Community Center on a heritage tour of Poland (see “8. Enhance Jewish-Polish relations”).
June 19: Attendance at a 49ers game with the 49ers Foundation.
June 20: U.S. Consul General in Poland Allen Greenberg took part in the opening of the exhibition “Artur Szyk — The Legacy of a Polish-Jewish Artist.” The exhibition was prepared by the StradomDialogueCenter in Kraków in cooperation with the Arthur Szyk Society in California and under the patronage of the U.S. Consulate General in Kraków (see “7. Cultural and Educational Community Events”).
June 28: The fourth annual Irena Sendler Memorial Award was presented in person to Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska on June 28, 2011, at the Nożyk Synagogue in Warsaw, by Shana Penn, Executive Director of the Taube Foundation, and Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland. (see “7. Cultural and Educational Community Events”).
June 30: Screening of Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers at the Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków.
June 24-July 3: 21st annual Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków.
July 22: A.C.T. Young Conservatory in San Francisco performed “Korczak’s Children.”
August 29: Reception held for Dr. Marek Belka, former Polish Finance Minister and current President of the Polish National Bank (see “4. Relations with Educational and Governmental Institutions”).
September 7: Deputy Mary Kay Stuvland attended the Consular Corps Luncheon held at the Fairmont Hotel (see “2. Relations with the Consular Corps and Local Government Officials”).
September 14: Piotr D. Moncarz, Ph.D., Consulting Professor, Stanford University; Principal Engineer and Corporate Vice President, Exponent; Chairman, U.S.-Polish Trade Council, presented a global economic perspective on the European Union’s dream of clean, efficient and renewable energy.
September: Consular deputy Shana Penn met with several lobbyists in Washington, DC, to ask for their support for the Visa Waiver Project (see “3. Relations with US Government Offices”).
October 15: US Consul Allen Greenberg attended the art exhibition by Polish-born American artist Witold-K at the Oswiecim Cultural Centre. The exhibition, entitled "From Little People to Black Holes," ran from October 15 to November 6, 2011 at the Cultural Centre’s "Tyle Swiatow" Gallery (see “7. Cultural and Educational Community Events”).
October 16: I gave the opening address at the “Poland 500 Innovators Program” at StanfordUniversity (see “4. Relations with Educational and Governmental Institutions”).
October 16: “Manya,” a theatrical monologue presented by Susan Marie Frontczak, on the Centenary of Mme. Curie’s second Nobel Prize, at the San Francisco Main Public Library.
October 29: A centennial commemoration, “Celebrating Milosz,” took place at the San Francisco Main Public Library.
October 31-November 10: My Consular deputy Shana Penn went to Poland and had meetings with several Polish dignitaries (see “7. Cultural and Educational Community Events”).
Shana Penn gave a lecture on the subject of youth trips to Poland at a lecture sponsored by New Eastern Europe Journal (NEE) in Kraków.
Shana Penn also attended the 2011 Limmud Conference. More than 700 people gathered at the Hotel Boss in Warsaw for the fourth annual Limmud in Poland. The theme of this year’s conference was the Jewish Arts. Shana Penn gave a presentation on the World War II-era political cartoons of Arthur Szyk and the place of this Polish-Jewish-born artist in American popular culture.
November 11-13: Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles.
November 14: Welcome dinner in Palo Alto held for innovators and distinguished scholars from Kraków, with an opportunity to meet Weronika Adrian, MSc, AGH University of Science and Technology; Slawomir Gruszczynski, PhD, AGH University of Science and Technology; Eliasz Kantoch, MSc, AGH University of Science and Technology; Magdalena Maksymiak, MSc, Polish Academy of Sciences, Centre of Polymer and Carbon Materials; Marcin Pietrzykowski, PhD, DSc, Agricultural University of Kraków; Daniel Prusak, PhD, AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków; Grzegorz Skrabalak, MSc, Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Technology; and Professor Piotr Moncarz, Mr. Jerzy Orkiszewski, and Joanna Pniewska, Gdansk University of Technology, Center of Knowledge and Entrepreneurship, and learn more about the state of innovation in the heart of Europe.
November 15: I and Consul Kerosky represented the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association at the Independent Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala for Liberty, honoring Lech Wałęsa, former President of Poland and 1983 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. President Wałęsa was not able to attend due to health restrictions and invited me to accept the Institute’s Alexis de Tocqueville Award on his behalf.
November 20: I, my Consular deputy Shana Penn and Honorary Consul Kerosky, on behalf of the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association, submitted a proposal for cooperation and academic exchange between the Jagiellonian University School of Law and the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt School of Law to the Dean of the Faculty of Law & Administration at the Jagiellonian, Dean Krystyna Chojnicka. The proposed program is entitled “UC-Berkeley’s International and Executive Legal Education Program 2012 Summer Certificate Program in American Law,” and has since received support from both Dean Chojnicka and the Dean of the Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Christopher Edley. Polish students from the Jagiellonian University School of Law will participate in an intensive course on American law, instructed by professors from the UC Berkeley School of Law in the summer 2012.
November 28-29: Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, visited the Bay Area. Rabbi Schudrich hosted a discussion about Polish Jews today at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco on November 28th. Over 50 community members attended. On November 29th, he spoke about formations of orthodoxy at the Graduate Theological Union (see “4. Relations with Educational and Governmental Institutions”).
December 1: Joanna Kozińska-Frybes, Consul General at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, gave a talk on Poland and the Polish Presidency of the European Union at the UC Berkeley Campus. Her talk was sponsored by the European Union Center of Excellence; the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies; the Institute of European Studies; and the Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles.
December 2: My Consular deputy Shana Penn met with Jozef Wancer, Council member and Chairman of the Financial Commission of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, and Jacek Kastelaniec, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, to discuss the AuschwitzStateMuseum and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation (see “4. Relations with Educational and Governmental Institutions”).
December 7: Mrs. Taube and I attended the Consular Christmas Party given by Mayor Edwin Lee at San FranciscoCity Hall (see “3. Relations with US Government Offices”).
December 7: Meeting requested with Senator Dianne Feinstein regarding the Visa Waver Program (see “3. Relations with US Government Offices”).
December 13: I attended the closing event of the “Poland 500 Innovators” program (see “4. Relations with Educational and Governmental Institutions”).
December 15: Members of my Consulate attended the Annual Łowiczanie Slavic Choral Christmas Concert.
December 19: Attendance at a 49ers game with the 49ers Foundation.
2012 Projected Goals and Activities
- Of top priority is advocacy on behalf of the Visa Waiver Program, which will allow Polish citizens to be able to enter the United States without a visa, strengthen Polish American relations and honor the Polish support of the United States’ counterterrorist efforts and global role. We will propose that all Consulates combine their efforts to advocate on behalf of the Visa Waiver Program. I will advocate for the visa waiver personally and through my Consular office both in the US and in Poland. I expect to meet with Senator Feinstein in the first quarter of 2012.
- I will broaden and deepen my office’s community-wide outreach efforts, including expanded use of the media such as the local Polish radio program and Polish-language web pages now in development for my websites; dissemination of Poland-related information; servicing tourism needs of visitors to Poland; encouraging genealogical research; and arranging arts, business and technology connections between Poland and the Bay Area.
- I will continue my support of Polish institutions, including the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, now well underway in Warsaw and scheduled to open on April 19, 2013. My Consular office is also advising the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation on their development campaign.
- It remains a major objective of mine to promote Poland’s leadership role in the European Union and to publicize “The New Poland.”
- Many of the various programs outlined in this report, such as the Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center and Taube Jewish Heritage Tours, illuminate how the New Poland supports its Jewish cultural institutions and its diaspora. The diaspora’s vitality is enhanced by knowledge of its history and family roots and by intergenerational access to information and educational resources.
- Together with Consul Kerosky, I will continue to host diplomats and ordinary Polish citizens visiting the Bay Area.
- I and Consul Kerosky will strengthen and continue to promote the activities of the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association.
A sampling of upcoming activities and events:
- Participation in the Global Technology Symposium (March 28-30, 2012).
- Annual Polish national flag raising ceremony at San FranciscoCity Hall (May 2012).
- Announcement of 4th annual Irena Sendler Memorial Award (May 2012).
- My Consular office and family foundation will organize a heritage tour to Poland with distinguished Bay Area guests. Among other activities, I and my team will celebrate the progress being made on the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, visit the Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center of the Jewish Historical Institute, enjoy the events of the Kraków Jewish Culture Festival and explore the beauty of Warsaw and Kraków.
- Participation in the academic exchange between the Jagiellonian University School of Law and the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt School of Law, “UC-Berkeley’s International and Executive Legal Education Program 2012 Summer Certificate Program in American Law,” which will have its inaugural session in Summer 2012 at UC Berkeley (August 2012).
Thank you for your kind review of this Consular Report.
Thaddeus N. Taube
January 5, 2012
C: Shana Penn, Malgorzata Cup