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2007 Consular Report
2007 REPORT OF HONORARY CONSUL
FOR SAN FRANCISCO SOUTH BAY AND EAST BAY
THADDEUS N. TAUBE
January 4, 2008
It is with great pride that I accepted my new post as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland this past May. 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 now act as a conduit between the two nations.
This report includes:
- Overview of 2007 major goals and activities accomplished
- Month-by-month report on most important Consular activities
- Projected goals and activities for 2008
The Embassy of Poland in Washington DC announced my appointment in May 2007 and the Belmont Consular office was officially opened by Ambassador Janusz Reiter and Consul General Paulina Kapuscinska on October 5, 2007. Hence, this annual report begins in the month of May 07.
I travel rather frequently between America and Poland and am thrilled to witness a growing willingness on the part of Americans to reconsider their perceptions of Poland and its progress as a burgeoning democracy. 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. I aim, in my role as Honorary Consul, to further this positive shift in public attitudes.
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, I have already begun to meet with community members, diplomats and Polish visitors to the Bay Area.
My Consular office cooperates closely with Christopher Kerosky, Honorary Consul of San Francisco, with whom we coordinate and cosponsor a number of activities. In addition, beginning in January 2008, w will co-supervise Consular staff, the legal intern Ewa Szafranska, whose duties include handling correspondences and informational requests, particularly those made in the Polish language.
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.
I organized a group of volunteers, drawing from local community leaders in business, technology, academia and the arts to assist in raising public awareness of Polish history, culture and society among the Bay Area’s diverse communities. These volunteers help my office to raise interest in and service people and organizations that are conducting business, academic pursuits and tourism in Poland. I plan to expand this cadre of volunteers in 2008.
Summary of Activities:
1. Relations with the Consulate in Los Angeles
I am in regular communication with the Consul General, Hon. Paulina Kapuscinska,of the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, and her staff. With her invaluable guidance, I and my office prepare 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
I and my staff 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 for the Government of Poland to award former US Secretary of State George Shultz with the Commander’s Cross
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 for May 3rd at San Francisco City Hall, which was attended by diverse members of the Bay Area community.
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.
4. Meetings with Polish and foreign dignitaries
During a June-July visit to Poland, I met with the President and First Lady, Minister of Foreign Affairs, US Ambassador to Poland, US Consul General in Krakow, Israeli Ambassador to Poland, and former President Kwasniewski. I also actively participated in landmark events in Poland as a visiting Honorary Consul representing California.
5. Media relations
I continue to publish Opinion Editorials in mainstream, Polish and Jewish press in the Bay Area and internationally including the San Jose Mercury News, Gazeta Wyborcza, and the Jewish Weekly of Northern California on a range of topics including bilateral relations between Poland and Israel; growing tourism to Auschwitz-Birkenau; and the elimination of the US visa policy toward Polish citizens. 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 included the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and the Washington Post.
6. Community Building
I support a diverse range of cultural 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.
7. 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, and the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco to help cosponsor public events.
May 2: Flag Raising Ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. Consul Taube representative Shana Penn participated in a formal flag raising ceremony at City Hall on behalf of the Consulate of Poland, with Mayor Gavin Newsom, Protocol Chief Charlotte Shultz, Honorary Consul of San Francisco Christopher Kerosky.
June 24–July 1: Hosted tour of Krakow and Warsaw for 26 Bay Area community leaders and philanthropists.
June 25: Receptions at the US Embassy in Warsaw and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Consul Taube was formally congratulated for his new Consular appointment by both US Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe and Minister of Foreign Affairs and also invited to speak at the Minister’s reception.
June 25: Consul Taube hosted dinner honoring US Ambassador Victor Ashe and Israeli Ambassador to Poland David Peleg at the Belvedere Restaurant in Lazienki Park, Warsaw.
June 26: Groundbreaking ceremony for Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw. As a Distinguished Benefactor of this museum, Consul Taube participated as a signatory in the groundbreaking ceremony.
July 1: Ongoing concerts and arts programs at the 18th annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. Consul Taube welcomed audience at the evening concert, performed by Theodore Bikel and Cantor Alberto Mizrachi in the renovated Temple Synagogue.
July 1: Consul Taube and Bay Area communal leaders met with Cultural Officer Janusz Sepiol in the Office of the Mayor of Krakow to discuss arrangements for a sister-city relationship between Krakow and San Francisco. Koret Foundation CEO Jeffrey Farber and Jewish Community Federation CEO Phyllis Cook in attendance.
July 3: Cohosted book party and panel on Polish Jewish relations for Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future, in Krakow. Consul deputy Shana Penn, a contributor to the anthology.
July 17: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan accepts the Order of the White Eagle from President Lech Kaczynski in honor, posthumously, of President Ronald Reagan, at the Ronald Reagan Library, Newport Beach, California. Consul Taube attended award ceremony and luncheon.
Aug. 18: German Consul General in San Francisco hosts forum and reception to introduce the Bay Area community to the European interns of the international NGO, Humanity in Action, including four Polish interns assigned to Bay Area NGOs for the fall semester. Consul deputy Shana Penn attended program.
Sept. 9: Consul Taube delivered the opening remarks at Judah L. Magnes Museum’s exhibition opening of paintings by Polish-born Mayer Kirschenblatt, in "They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust." The Magnes Museum, in Berkeley, contains the United States’s third largest Judaica collection.
Sept. 12: First of ongoing planning meetings with Honorary Consul Chris Kerosky and US-Polish Trade Council George Slawek to organize November IT symposium at Hoover Institution in cooperation with Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Sept. 28: Meeting in San Francisco with Dr. Jerzy Halbersztadt, executive director of the Warsaw-based Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and Rabbi Brian Lurie, former executive director of the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco.
Oct. 5: Official ceremony to open the Consulate office in Belmont, California, with Polish Ambassador Janusz Reiter and Polish Consul General in Los Angeles Paulina Kapuscinska. 100 guests attend the ceremony and luncheon held in Belmont.
Oct. 31: Co-sponsored an academic symposium at the Graduate Theological Union on “Oral History as Counter History in Jewish Studies.”
Nov. 7: Annual luncheon for Consular Corps at Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco. Attended together with Consul personnel, Shana Penn and Dr. Stephen Dobbs.
Nov. 8: Cohosted Symposium, "Poland the Ideal Business Partner: Offshoring Information Technology and Business Process," with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Honorary Consul in San Francisco, U.S. Polish Trade Council, San Francisco Global Trade Council, Polish American Engineers Club, Google, IBM, Siemens, the City of Lodz, and others. Arranged symposium at the Hoover Institution, where Consul Taube serves as a Trustee.
Dec. 19: Meeting with Consul General Kapuscinska in Belmont office.
Dec. 19: Attended San Francisco Mayor Newsom’s dinner for Consular Corps, in Hillsborough.
Dec. 19: Arranged awarding of the Polish Commander’s Cross to former US Secretary of State George Shultz at a special event. Award made by Consul General Kapuscinska.
2008 Projected Goals and Activities
1. In 2008 I will further develop my corps of interns, volunteers and community activists to better assist in the accomplishment of these goals. Specific progress has been made on that level, including the addition of a Polish-speaking legal intern who begins work this January, and several volunteers who live in either the South Bay or East Bay.
2. 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 the creation of a designated website; 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.
A sampling of upcoming activities and events follows:
January: The Galicia Jewish Museum’s exhibit “Polish Heroes” opens at UCLA. My office is seeking a Bay Area venue in which to show this moving photographic exhibit from Krakow, before it travels outside of California.
March: We are arranging a public forum to mark the 40th anniversary of the March 1968 student demonstrations and Communist Party’s anti-Semitic campaign. The event will address how 1968 was a harbinger of 1989.
April: We are planning a commemorative event on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Coinciding with an event in the Bay Area, we plan to honor Polish resistance fighter and Righteous Gentile Irena Sendler in Warsaw.
May: Polish national flag raising ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.
Promotion of Chopin concerts in the Bay Area.
June-July: My office will be represented at this summer’s annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow.
We will meet with the Mayor of Krakow to arrange a sister-city relationship.
Autumn: Cohost a second IT symposium with Honorary Consul of San Francisco and Silicon Valley IT firms.
Thank you for your kind review of this Consular Report.
Thaddeus N. Taube
January 4, 2008