Linking Holocaust survivors and their families in the Bay Area with genealogical data and contemporary news about their Polish birthplaces
A Partnership Program of he Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture and Jewish Family and Children's Services, San Francisco in cooperation with Congregation Emanu-el and the Holocaust Center of Northern California
In October 2006, the Taube Foundation sponsored a series of cultural and academic events entitled "Where We Come From: Our Jewish Heritage in Poland-Past, Present & Future," bringing Polish grantees to the San Francisco Bay Area. The festival's fundamental message was a revelation to many: that Jewish culture is being rediscovered and renewed by both Jews and Christians in Poland and that the flowering of these cultural, intellectual and social institutions is not only reclaiming Jewish heritage but also strengthening the future of both Judaism and democracy in Poland.
One of the most memorable events was a public gathering at the Jewish Family and Children's Services in San Francisco in which Polish Jewish and Christian speakers met with local Holocaust survivors and their families. The audience listened with great interest to the visiting Poles as they recounted their personal histories of how they became involved in the renewal of Jewish culture in Poland. A number of audience participants asked how they could create connections with contemporary Poland and learn more about what happened to Jews who remained in Poland, as well as what happened to the birthplaces of those survivors who left Poland and settled in the Bay Area.
Out of this meaningful gathering was born the inspiration for the Next Chapter Project.
The Foundation, through its Jewish Heritage Initiative in Poland, had access to the kind of information that the survivors were eager to receive. Magdalena Matuszewska, the JHIP's Program Associate in Warsaw and one of the presenters at the October '06 event, served as the lead researcher in Warsaw to document the historical backgrounds of a dozen or so Bay Area Holocaust survivors who lived in Poland before the war and also document what had happened to their birthplaces and communities after the war. Genealogical information about the survivors' families was contributed by Yale Reisner, Director of the Jewish Genealogy Learning Center (a program of the TFJLC) at the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw.
In the Bay Area, Dr. Anita Friedman, Executive Director of the Jewish Family and Children's Services, assembled a team to coordinate the interested members of their Holocaust Survivors Program with Bay Area high school students who wished to serve as liaisons and oral history interviewers. The teens, organized and directed by JFCS Youth Coordinator Taylor Epstein, spent months interviewing the survivors about their experiences both during and after the war and helping them to answer the basic questionnaire prepared by the researchers in Warsaw. To culminate this work, the teens prepared an album of each survivor's life and the home towns they left behind.
Not only did the project create cross-generational links by giving the teens a personalized connection to the Holocaust and to prewar Poland, it also created new bridges between the Bay Area and contemporary Poland, opening the eyes of all who participated to the current revitalization of Jewish life in Poland, a message of hope and progress both surprising and profound.
The Taube Foundation continues to support the ongoing revival of Jewish culture in Poland and is committed to furthering awareness of this resurgence. In this respect, the Next Chapter Project advances this mission. "Poland has changed considerably since these survivors left," said Tad Taube, chairman of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and honorary consul to Poland. "My hope in supporting the Next Chapter is to show people that Poland's Jewish community is once again thriving, and to help heal the wounds of those who left."
Student Aaron Tartakovsky with survivors Morris and Guta Piotrkowski.
For a Press release about the Next Chapter Project, click here [70K]
For a News Report on the Next Chapter Project, click here
For pdfs of display panels on the Next Chapter, click below
Next Chapter Panel One [3M]
Next Chapter Panel Two [1.9M]