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2009 Consular Report
2009 REPORT OF HONORARY CONSUL
FOR SAN FRANCISCO SOUTH BAY AND EAST BAY
THADDEUS N. TAUBE
January 15, 2010
I am proud to report on my second 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 2009 major goals and activities accomplished
- Month-by-month report on the most important Consular activities
- Projected goals and activities for 2010
The year 2009 marked the historic 20-year 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 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 among the American people generally.
- 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 San Francisco, with whom we coordinate and cosponsor a number of activities.
Ernest Weiner, former Northern California regional director for the American Jewish Committee, serves as my Deputy in fulfilling Consular duties. Already well known among the Bay Area's Consular Corps and civic institutions, Mr. Weiner helps to represent my office at various receptions and meetings representing our Consular mission.
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.
In addition, my Consular office has organized a group of volunteers to assist our networking and outreach efforts, drawing from local community leaders in business, technology, academia and the arts. They help to raise public awareness of Polish history, culture and society among the Bay Area's diverse communities and include luminaries such as former US Secretary of State, The Honorable George Shultz, and Hoover Institution Chief Archivist Maciej Siekierski. These volunteers help my office to raise interest in and service people and organizations that are conducting business, academic pursuits and tourism in Poland.
Summary of Activities:
1. Relations with the Consulate in Los Angeles
I was in regular communication with the Consul General, Hon. Paulina Kapuscinska, of the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, and her staff. With her invaluable guidance, my Consular office and I prepared our goals and activities in the Bay Area and in service of sister activities in Los Angeles. Now we are pleased to cooperate with Consul General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes and her able staff including Cultural Attache Malgorzata Cup.
2. Relations with the Consular Corps and local government officials.
My staff and I attend the meetings of the Consular Corps. I also attended meetings of the Consular Corps with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. At Consul General Paulina Kapuscinska's behest, I arranged a lecture and luncheon at the Hoover Institution for Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honorable Radoslaw Sikorski.
3. Relations with US government offices
I am actively involved in a communications campaign to encourage the US Senate to approve House legislation to allocate minimum $5 million to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, for which President Lech Kaczynski is Honorary Patron.
Honorary Consul Kerosky and I are working on a campaign whereby the US Government would eliminate the visa requirements for Polish citizens to enter the US.
My relationships with Mayor Gavin Newsom and his staff, particularly Chief of Protocol, Charlotte Shultz, are strong. My office participated in the annual Polish national flag-raising ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, which was attended by diverse members of the Bay Area community.
4. Sister Cities Initiative
I am very proud to report that in collaboration with Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky, we have successfully commenced a Sister Cities Relationship between Krakow and San Francisco. The proposal, initiated during a trip to Krakow, which my Consular office and my foundation hosted for Bay Area community leaders 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 Krakow by Mayor Jacek Majchrowski and, representing Mayor Gavin Newsom, myself and Consul Kerosky, on July 1st. In addition, my foundation financed the travel to Krakow of a senior protocol officer from Mayor Newsom's office.
Consul Kerosky and I have formed a nonprofit organization, called the Sister City Program, which we are co-chairing. We are in the final phase of setting up a Board, Advisory Council and Committees in the Arts, Technology, Commerce, Education, Religion, and Politics. We will cohost several events in 2010 including a speakers series, an Information Technology Conference and a Tour of Krakow and Warsaw. (See July 2 and October 21, 2009 calendar descriptions below for more information.)
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. My foundation's media outreach efforts led, for the first time, to significant national and international coverage of the annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow and other programs reflecting the revitalization of Jewish culture in Poland. Press coverage includes San Francisco Business Times, Philanthropy Magazine and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). (see "In the New Poland, 20 Years of Democracy and Jewish Life" JTA, June 7, 2009, attached.)
7. Community Building
I support a diverse range of cultural, civic and educational activities in the Bay Area that help promote Polish history, culture and society. Events include art exhibitions, academic symposia, publishing and the arts, and local government agencies.
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.
Next Chapter Project
The Next Chapter Project brings together Bay Area Holocaust survivors and high school students in collaboration with genealogy researchers from Warsaw in an innovative learning service program that connects young and old, the past and the present, and family histories with their contemporary communities. Students interview survivors from Poland, while Warsaw genealogists provide documentation on 1) each survivor's family lineage and birthplace in Poland; 2) how the memory of each survivor's prewar Jewish community is being preserved today; and 3) whether Jewish communities have come back to life in these given cities and towns. The oral histories and documents are assembled and published as individual albums for each of the survivor and student participants; additionally, master collections are archived at Yad Vashem and the Warsaw Jewish Historical Institute, and presented at the annual California Day of Holocaust Remembrance in Sacramento.
The Next Chapter Project is co-organized by Taube Foundation and Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, in collaboration with Congregation Emanu-El and the Holocaust Center for Northern California.
In 2009, the Next Chapter Project was extended from semester-long study and dialogue to a follow-on cultural immersion program that enabled participants to journey to Poland, visit the survivors' native homes, and witness Ashkenazi Jewish tradition and culture in the places where it existed and is being revived today. Several of the Bay Area teens who participated in the Next Chapter Project traveled to Poland. The trip, organized by the Taube Foundation, gave the participants a firsthand look at the renaissance of Jewish life in Poland and included a memorable visit to the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the world's largest repository of Polish Jewish history and the first research institution to document the Holocaust immediately following World War II. The trip was funded by the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation.
Poland Jewish Heritage Tours Launched
My Consulate is proud to participate in the newly launched Poland Jewish Heritage Tours (www.polandjewishheritagetours.com) which commenced last Spring. Poland 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.
Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
The Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center is of critical importance to the Polish and Jewish Diasporas. A complex database for the Center is near completion and will make all JHI collections accessible for the first time in 62 years. It has been designed with special features to locate any information held in JHI's collections-from archival documents to books, from photos to painted portraits-about a given individual. Family trees will also be included. After final testing, this unique database should be operational by mid-2010. An associated website is also being designed to make data available to the global public, to share new discoveries and to facilitate contact with the Center.
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 aim to encourage use of it by my Bay Area constituency.
9. Publications/Educational Resources
Journal: The Fall of the Wall and the Rebirth of Jewish Life in Poland: 1989-2009
This collection of personal essays by twelve leading Jewish thinkers and activists in Poland provides invaluable insights into modern Polish Jewish history. Each contributor reflects, from their individual generational standpoints and personal experiences, on how their nation's democratic aspirations made the reclamation of Jewish life possible. It enables us to learn about Poland's past, present and future from inside the culture, which today is free, democratic and a member of NATO and the European Union, an ally of the U.S. and Israel, and protective of its ethnic minorities.
The journal is available on our websites and will soon be sold in museum bookshops in Krakow and Warsaw.
Historical Timeline Brochure: 1,000 Years of Jewish Life in Poland
In appreciation of the millennium of Jewish history and accomplishments in Poland, the Taube Foundation asked Konstanty Gebert, scholar-in-residence of Centrum Taubego in Warsaw (the Polish office of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture), to assemble an authoritative timeline of the significant events of Jewish life in Poland, so often limited in modern-day sensibilities as the site of the Holocaust. 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.
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 activities of the Foundation and of Consul Taube that foster our ongoing and rich connection with Poland; submission of names of friends and associates in the Bay Area for enlarging their subscription outreach; direct support of the publication through an annual grant.
MONTH-BY-MONTH REPORT FOR THE YEAR 2009
January 7---Consulate of France, Polish Consul-General Kapucinska scheduled.
January 28-Meeting with Bay Area philanthropist Sanford Diller re: Polish projects.
February 5 - Cosponsored lecture, with the Graduate Theological Union, on "The Future of Memory: Holocaust Education in the 21st Century", by Holocaust researcher Dr. Debbie Findling, Deputy Director of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.
February 23-Meeting with French Ambassador Viment.
February24---Luncheon for Claudine Cheng, President, Organization of Chinese Americans.
February 25: Seminar at Hastings College of Law cosponsored by Woodrow Wilson Center and Taube Foundation on "Law In the Age of Obama."
March 1-Consul General Sanchez, Venezuela.
March 5 - Symposium: "Destination Ashkenazi: Jewish Identity and Cultural Tourism in Poland" at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Presenters: Shana Penn, Taube Foundation and author; Prof Erica Lehrer, Concordia College, Montreal; Karen Underhill, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago, and cofounder of Massolit Bookshop/Café in Krakow.
Presentations examined the complex heritage of Ashkenazi Jewry and the boundaries of Jewish tourism to Poland, a region too often reduced to a post-Holocaust cemetery. Each of the panelists' research and experiential projects challenge and aim to transform the conventional Jewish tourism narrative from a singular focus on how Jews died in the Holocaust to how Jews lived for hundreds of years and created an enduring culture that shapes Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora today.
March 10-Consul General Hesham Elnakib, Egypt.
March 19-Consul General F. Mourier, France.
March 20-Consul General Rolf Schutte, Germany.
March 24-Consul General Jee See Heng, Singapore.
April 9-American Jewish Committee President Richard Sideman on Eastern Europe Program.
April 25-Cosponsor of and attended the annual Polonaise Ball organized by the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation.
April 30 -- Annual Meeting of the American Jewish Committee.
May 4: Flag Raising Ceremony and Polish Constitution Day at City Hall in San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom, Chief of Staff Steven Kawa and Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz hosted the ceremony. The event was co-organized by Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky and my Consular office, and Bay Area leaders of Polish groups. More than 30 people attended the morning program.
May 5--- Asian Heritage Dinner.
May 8--Shabbat Dinner 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 and the Taube Foundation's Jewish Heritage Initiative in Poland.
May 12--Announcement of the second annual Irena Sendlerowa Memorial Award. The award "Honors Polish men and women who, in the spirit of Irena Sendlerowa, protect Jewish life and promote Jewish cultural renewal in Poland."
The award is granted to a non-Jewish Pole who has worked to preserve Jewish heritage in Poland, in memory of the late Irena Sendlerowa, a "Righteous Gentile" who courageously saved over 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. This year's recipient was Jan Jagielski, curator at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, who was presented with the award at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival in July.
May 12--Mayor's Consular Corps Event.
May 13--Consul General Goa Zhansheng, China.
May 18---Ido Aharoni, Israeli Media.
May 28---Half Moon Bay High School Awards.
June 15---Consul General Susmita Gongulee-Thomas, India.
June 23--Consul General Elnakib, Egypt.
June 24-Civic leader and philanthropist Warren Hellman Dinner.
June 27--Fabrizio Marcelli, Consul General Italy.
June 30 - Taube Tour celebrates 20th Anniversary of Democracy and Jewish Life in Poland
From June 30-July 6, 2009, the Consul Taube and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture led a distinguished group of American civic leaders on a heritage tour of Poland to mark the 20th 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 establishment of a Sister Cities relationship between Krakow and San Francisco (San Francisco's first Sister City in Eastern Europe); the start of construction of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews on the sacred site where the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was valiantly fought in 1943; and a half decade of intellectual and material investments by the Taube Foundation and its partners in strengthening Jewish life and civil society through programs in heritage preservation, Jewish studies, genealogy and cultural tourism, youth and adult education, and cultural innovations such as the stunning Galicia Jewish Museum.
In an affiliated tour, 300 participants from around the world joined the Cantors Assembly of America mission as part of a historical, emotional, and inspirational journey connecting to 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland. The Cantors group, sponsored by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, performed at contemporary and historical sites in Poland, including the National Opera House in Warsaw, the US Consul General's residence in Krakow, the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, and a special memorial service at Auschwitz.
The Taube Tour participants were witness to a Jewish miracle of our times as they enjoyed the splendid attractions of the 19th annual Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, chatting with Jewish activists and leaders, visited impressive monuments to the glory that was Polish Jewry and the horrible sites of its extermination by the Third Reich, and experienced its unexpected rebirth.
July 1--Presentation of the second annual Irena Sendlerowa Memorial Award to Jan Jagielski, chief archivist at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute. The award was presented by Consul Tad Taube before an audience of 900 attendees to the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival.
Jagielski, chief archivist at the newly renamed Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, was the first to initiate in the pre-1989 Communist era a project to document and ultimately preserve what remained of Jewish monuments in Poland. A non-Jewish Pole by origin, a chemical engineer by profession, his only motivation was his pain at seeing a part of his country's heritage go to ruin and oblivion. Acting alone and only in his personal capacity at first, he photographed neglected cemeteries and ruined synagogues and started to collect documentation on their former appearance and importance.
Since the fall of Communism in 1989, Jagielski has co-produced, with the City of Warsaw, excellent guidebooks to Warsaw's prewar Jewish history. Today, he leads a new major conservation program at Warsaw's Jewish Historical Institute. Jan Jagielski remains one of Poland's top authorities on Jewish monuments and is a role model for all those who work to salvage and redeem the glory of Poland's Jewish legacy.
July 2-- Over 200 people gathered in Krakow's majestic City Hall to witness the signing of a Sister Cities agreement between Krakow and San Francisco, hosted by the Mayor of Krakow, Jacek Majchrowski. Representing the City of San Francisco were Matthew Goudeau, Protocol Officer from the Office of Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Honorary Consuls for the Republic of Poland in the Bay Area Tad Taube and Christopher Kerosky. Mssrs Taube and Kerosky cosigned the agreement. The audience included nearly 100 San Francisco Bay Area guests, among them members of the Polish American community and tour groups organized by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and Lehrhaus Judaica, and the Next Chapter Project of the Jewish Family and Children's Services. The San Francisco-Krakow relationship will foster business, civic and cultural links between the two cities.
July 4-The 19th Annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow Honors Consul Taube
In front of a cheering crowd of 15,000 gathered for the July 4, 2009 closing night outdoor concert, Jewish Culture Festival director Janusz Makuch presented Consul Taube, a native born Krakowian, with an award for his ongoing support of the Festival.
July 14----Bastille Day event.
July 23-Ambassador Shameh Shoukry, Consul General Elnakib, Egypt.
July 29---Japan Consul General Nagamine.
August 3--Consul General Jee See Heng, Singapore.
August 5--Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski lectured at World Affairs Council.
August 6-Minister Sikorski lectured at Hoover Institution which held private luncheon for him and invited guests, cohosted by Consul Taube, who is a Hoover Trustee.
August 28-Polish National Day, Office of Consul Kerosky.
September 8--Consular Corps luncheon. Mayor Gavin Newsom delivered keynote.
September 10-Attended reception hosted by Mayor Newsom, to launch a new Sister City Artists in Residence Program between the San Francisco Sister Cities and the California College of the Arts.
September 14-Luncheon, Israel Minister Yossi Peled.
September 17--Meeting Russian Consulate, U.S. Missile Defense Issue, Consul General Vladimir Vinokurov.
September 29--Chinese Consulate.
October 2--German Consulate.
October 15--Consulate of the Netherlands, Dutch Ambassador R. Jones-Bos.
October 20, Mexican Consular Luncheon, Consul General Carlos Felix.
October 21: Mayor Gavin Newsom and Chief of Protocol Charlotte Mailliard Shultz hosted a reception in San Francisco City Hall honoring the new Sister Cities relationship between San Francisco and Krakow with Honorary Co-Consuls for the Republic of Poland Tad Taube and Christopher Kerosky and about 100 other notable San Francisco community leaders. Special guest speakers were Consul General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes and Secretary of State George Shultz. The San Francisco-Krakow sister cities relationship is the first such Eastern European relationship for San Francisco.
October 30, Indian Leadership Council, Consul General Jitu Somaya, Mauritius.
November 3, Residence, Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine of Japan, Emperor's Birthday Event.
November 10: Annual luncheon for Consular Corps at Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco. Attended together with Consul personnel, Shana Penn and Ernest Weiner.
December 3: Mayor Gavin Newsom and Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz co-hosted the annual Christmas/Winter Holiday celebration at City Hall.
December 19: Gave Welcome Remarks at a benefit reception in support of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews at the home of Stanley and Helena Krol, of Beverly Hills. Cohost was Wanda Pressburger.
2010 Projected Goals and Activities
1. In 2010, 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 on my websites; dissemination of Poland-related information; servicing some of the tourism needs of visitors to Poland; encouraging genealogical research; and arranging business and technology connections between Poland and the Bay Area.
2. It remains a major objective of my Consular service to promote Poland's leadership role in the European Union and to publicize what I call "The New Poland."
3. Many of the various programs that I outlined above, such as the Genealogy Center and Heritage Tourism, 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.
4. Together with Consul Kerosky, we will continue to host diplomats and ordinary Polish citizens to the Bay Area.
A sampling of upcoming activities and events follows:
February 1-4: Speaker Series: Visit of Janusz Makuch, director of the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, will meet with academic and community groups in the Bay Area and promote the 20th anniversary Festival in summer 2010.
February 17: Speaker Series: Gazeta Wyborcza journalist Konstanty Gebert will lecture at UC Berkeley and Graduate Theological Union on Poland in the European Union.
March 26: Information Technology Symposium co-hosted with Consul Kerosky and the Sister Cities Program, to be held at Hoover Institution with the anticipated participation of representatives of the Krakow Mayor.
May 3: Annual Polish national flag raising ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.
May : Announcement of annual award in honor of Polish resistance fighter and Righteous Gentile Irena Sendlerowa on the second-year anniversary of Mrs. Sendlerowa's death.
June 26-July 7: My Consular office and family foundation will bring 15 community leaders from the Bay Area to Krakow and Warsaw. We will meet with the Mayors of both cities. In addition, Minister Sikorski and I will travel to Torun and Bialystok to view synagogue projects in which he is involved.
September tba: We will organize a special public program on the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk Accords and birth of Solidarnosc.
Thank you for your kind review of this Consular Report.
Thaddeus N. Taube
January 15, 2010
C: Shana Penn, Malgorzata Cup