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2016 Consular Report
ANNUAL CONSULAR REPORT
Submitted January 13, 2017
Honorary Consuls for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area
THADDEUS N. TAUBE and CHRISTOPHER A. KEROSKY
- Description of the internal situation within the consular region
- Internal social and political structure (with an account of the outcome of Presidential, Congressional and important local elections).
- Consul Taube and Consul Kerosky are in communication with the mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Edwin Lee. The governor of California, Governor Jerry Brown, is a long-time friend of Consul Taube. The Consuls both know all of the congressional representatives and the State of California’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom.
- On May 2, 2016, Hon. Consuls Taube and Kerosky organized and participated in the Flag Raising Ceremony and Polish Constitution Day at City Hall in San Francisco. Representing the Mayor of San Francisco Edwin Lee was Chief of Staff for the City of San Francisco, Steve Kawa and Trade Representative Mark Chandler. The event was conducted in conjunction with Bay Area leaders of Polish-American groups. In attendance were several government officials, including Poland’s Consul General Mariusz Brymora, and many Polish American community leaders. Consul General Brymora and Hon. Consuls Taube and Kerosky each received a proclamation by Mayor Lee declaring May 2 “Polish American Friendship and Heritage Day.” Consul General Brymora presented Steve Kawa with a book of photographs of Poland, and Steve Kawa expressed Mayor Lee’s desire to visit Poland in the near future. After the ceremony, Hon. Consuls and guests attended the opening of a photography exhibit on Polish anti-Nazi partisan Jan Karski at the San Franicsco War Memorial Veterans’ Building.
- Our Consular offices regularly attend the meetings of the Consular Corps in San Francisco, which meet once monthly at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Francisco.
- General situation and economic policy (consequences of the financial crisis).
- Elements of the internal situation that may have bearing on or influence Polish interests (e.g. economic, political or social situation, for example unemployment).
- Honorary Consul’s relations with the local authorities and institutions (including state members of the House of Representatives and the US Senate), and possibilities of engaging them in the consular work.)
- Hon. Consuls Taube and Kerosky continually meet and correspond with local authorities and institutions as relevant. Of utmost priority is advocacy for increased trade between Poland and Northern California.
- Description of the cooperation with Poland within the consular region
- Regional cooperation (e.g. sister cities).
- The Consulates play a leadership role in the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association. The relationship, which Consul Taube initiated in July 2007, was discussed between the Mayors, their offices and the 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 Consul Taube, on July 1, 2009. The San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities relationship is the first such Eastern European relationship for San Francisco. Consul Taube and Consul Kerosky co-host many Sister Cities events. For further information please see the website: sfkrakow.org; Facebook fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/SanFranciscoKrakowSisterCities; and blog: http://citysister.org/. This relationship was recently renewed by both cities.
- Economic and scientific cooperation (including universities).
- Silicon Valley Acceleration Center
Consul Kerosky has prepared a special Guide to Opening a Business in California in both English and Polish languages for SVAC program participants. Consul Kerosky also prepared a Guide to Visas for Businessmen for SVAC participants. Both guides are for use in the business trainings taking place in coordination with the SVAC.
Consul Kerosky has also met with SVAC staff at SVAC and at his offices in San Francisco, to discuss continued cooperation and assistance with SVAC programs. Consul Kerosky has agreed to provide training to SVAC participants as a mentor in corporate, contract and business law in the U.S. as well as advise participants on other legal subjects including visas.
Consul Kerosky through his assistant Paweł Trela has provided training to SVAC participants as a mentor in corporate, contract and business law in the U.S. as well as advise participants on other legal subjects including visas. Mr. Trela has provided these services on a regular basis at SVAC throughout 2016.
- Meeting with PAiZ Vice President Wojciech Fedko
Discussions included planning for the expansion of trade activities of the Silicon Valley Acceleration Center and related matters.
- Meeting with the Delegation from PGE
- Silicon Valley Acceleration Center
- Cultural and educational cooperation (e.g. student exchange)
- Consul Taube supports POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews Global Education Outreach Program (GEOP), which in 2016 supported 7 doctoral seminars with 15 participants; 7 fellowships and 5 international interns; 7 travel grants; research workshops and a distinguished lecture series; meetings with over 6,000 guests at POLIN Museum’s Genealogy Center; 4 genealogy workshops in cooperation with the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute; and the addition of over 63,400 genealogy records to their soon-to-be-released genealogy database; and the conference, “Museums and their Publics at Sites of Conflicted History” (March 2016), which fielded 203 abstracts from 45 countries.
- POLIN Museum of the History was honored with two prestigious awards, the 2016 European Museum Academy Prize (for being a state-of-the-art cultural institution that reaches diverse publics all over the world) and the European Museum of the Year Award 2016 (for being a museum which contributes most directly to attracting audiences and satisfying its visitors with unique atmosphere, imaginative interpretation and presentation, and a creative approach to education and social responsibility).Consul Taube is a Distinguished Benefactor of POLIN Museum.
- Film screenings of Jan Karski & The Lords of Humanity, sponsored by the Sister Cities Association, took place on February 9 at Sonoma State University and on February 10 at the University of California, Berkeley.The documentary film tells the remarkable story of Jan Karski. The film’s director and producer, Sławomir Grunberg and Katke Reszke, were in attendance at the screenings and held Q&As. Many leaders of the Polish community in the San Francisco Bay Area attended both screenings. Mr. Kerosky represented both Consuls at the Sonoma screening, and Deputy Hon. Consul Shana Penn, Vera Hannush and Maayan Stanton, represented both Consuls at the UC Berkeley screening, as well as at the reception, hosted by Mary Kay Stuvland, board member of the Sister Cities Association.
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundations supported the “Roman Vishniac Rediscovered” exhibit at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum (February 11 – May 30, 2016). Vishniac took iconic photos of Jewish life in Eastern Europe during the inter- and post-war periods, including in Poland. Organized by the International Center of Photography, New York, the travelling exhibit was previously displayed at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundations supported the exhibition of “Rescue, Relief and Renewal: 100 Years of the Joint in Poland” at the Osher Marin JCC (March 6 – May 31, 2016). First shown at the Galicia Jewish Museum, in Kraków, the exhibit showcases rare archival photographs of the Joint Distribution Committee’s work in Poland. The opening included a panel discussion with representatives of the JDC, as well as the director of the Galicia Jewish Museum Jakub Nowakowski, and the exhibit’s curator, Dr. Anna Sommer Schneider, a Polish educator on the Holocaust. Hon. Consul Taube facilitated bringing Nowakowski and Sommer Schneider to this event.
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundations awarded Wrocław University’s Department of Jewish Studies a grant to support the renovation of the Department’s new location in Wrocław’s historical center, providing an increased number of classrooms, offices, conference and seminar rooms, as well as the Department’s first designated space for its ever-growing library.
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation supported the opening of Hillel Warsaw. Hillel International is an organization that provides Jewish life and community to university students. This is the first time a Hillel opened in Poland.
- Hon. Consul Kerosky represented both Consuls at an earlier private screening of Bridging Urban America and meeting with the filmmakers in May 2016 at the Lucas Ranch, home and filmmaking center of George Lucas and Lucas Films.
- In June 2016, the Honorary Consulates of the San Francisco Bay Area announced the recipients of the seventh annual Irena Sendler Memorial Award. The award, in memory of the late Irena Sendler, is granted to Polish citizens who have worked to preserve and promote Jewish heritage in Poland. This year there were two recipients: Dr. Monica Adamczyk-Garbowska, professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, who has made significant contributions, in Poland and internationally, to both teaching and publishing in Jewish and Yiddish literature studies; and Maria Piechotkowa,renowned Polish architect and author of several groundbreaking publications upholding the architectural memory of buildings destroyed in WWII, especially synagogues. The award to Dr. Monica Adamczyk-Garbowska was presented on July 1 at the Jan Kulczyk Memorial Concert of the Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków, and the award to Maria Piechotkowa was presented under the reconstruction of the Gwoździec Synagogue, housed at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, on September 16.
- Delegation to Kraków in July for the 25th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków
Representing the Honorary Consuls for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area, Deputy Consul and San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association Vice President Shana Penn attended the 25th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków. At the same time, Ms. Penn met with Kraków community leaders and officials in promotion of the San Francisco- Kraków Sister Cities Cooperation Agreement.
- Meetings with Jagiellonian University Department Chairs
Deputy Consul and San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association Vice President Shana Penn, with Jagiellonian University Director of the Center for Holocaust Studies Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, had meetings and discussions with Jagiellonian University’s Rector Wojciech Nowak and Dean of the Centre for European Studies Zdzisław Mach.
- Tours through Poland with Taube Jewish Heritage Tours (TJHT), sponsored and/or organized by Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundations, to learn about Jewish revival in Poland:
- A group from the Osher Marin JCC visited Poland, coinciding with the 25th Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków. The group toured Warsaw and Praga (including visiting POLIN Museum), Kraków, Chmielnik, and Wieliczka, among others.
- TJHT’s tour program, “Exploring Poland/Polin” (supported in part by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs), had two editions in summer 2016 – one for American students of Polish Jewish and Polish heritage, and one for professionals who work in the fields of Polish and/or Polish Jewish culture. The professionals’ tour included three people who work in academia, media, and museums in the Bay Area.
- TJHT toured a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League during their visit to Poland, which included attending the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the massacre at Jedwabne.
- The Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, a philanthropic foundation of Hon. Consul Taube, brought a doctoral student of Yiddish studies from the University of Wrocław, Department of Jewish Studies, to its Berkeley office as a trainee to learn about philanthropy and Jewish life in the Bay Area.
- In August, Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation sponsored the visit of a genealogist from the Jewish Genealogy & Family Heritage Center of the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw to the San Francisco Bay Area to hold private genealogy consultations for those with Polish Jewish roots. He had over 20 complementary sessions at two locations in San Francisco and a third in Berkeley.
- A film screening of Bridging Urban America,co-hosted by the Sister Cities Association, took place at Sonoma State University and on November 9 in San Francisco.The documentary film tells the story of Ralph Modjeski and his lifetime of designing and building remarkable bridges throughout the United States. Many leaders of the Polish community in the San Francisco Bay Area attended the screening in San Francisco.
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation sponsored three screenings of the film Denial (Mick Jackson, 2016), in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Albany. Denial recounts the suspenseful legal battle by Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt for historical truth against British historian David Irving, who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the British legal system, in cases of libel, the burden of proof is on the defendant; therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team, led by Richard Rampton, to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred and that Irving manipulated historical events for his racist ideological purposes. The screenings were open to the public and the audiences filled the theaters at each screening. The film was very well received.
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundations supported the Warsaw Philharmonic’s performance at the San Francisco Symphony on November 6, 2016. Hon. Consul Taube and Deputy Hon. Consul Penn attended the performance on behalf of both Consuls.
- The Honorary Consulates of the San Francisco Bay Area hosted Polish academics and directors of cultural institutions throughout the year:
- Hon. Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation co-sponsored the symposium “Curating Culture / Making Memory” held at UC Berkeley’s Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in April 2016. The speakers included Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Rick and Laura Brown of Handshouse Studio, the studio that reconstructed the close-to-scale model of the 18th-century Gwoździec Synagogue housed at POLIN Museum in Warsaw, and Dr. Jeffrey Shandler of Rutgers University.
- Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of POLIN, gave a talk on POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews at Stanford University’s Center for Jewish Studies. The lecture was open to the public and was well received.In addition, Dr. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett led a Stanford Masterclass workshop on theater and performance in relation to the POLIN Museum.
- Anna Bikont, Polish author of The Crime and the Silence, delivered a lecture at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley on April 19. Bikont’s visit and talk were co-sponsored by Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation.
- Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation facilitated Stanisław Krajewski’s visit to the San Francisco Bay Area for a dialogue on interfaith matters including Catholic participation in World Youth Day 2016 at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California, on May 23.
- Professor Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, Director of the Center for Holocaust Studies at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, delivered a lecture on Holocaust education in Poland, at the Graduate Theological Union on November 1. Ambrosewicz-Jacob’s visit and talk were co-sponsored by Consul Taube’s philanthropic foundation.
- Reception for the JCC Krakow’s Executive Director, Jonathan Ornstein, hosted by Deputy Consul Shana Penn during his visit to the Bay Area in November 2016. Deputy Consul Penn is a board member of Friends of JCC Krakow.
- Shana Penn, Consular Deputy, lectured at the University of San Francisco in the Museum Studies department on “POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews,” November 15, 2016.
- Consul Taube & his philanthropic foundations were honored with the following awards for his work in Poland:
- 20th Annual Kraków Patron of Culture Award, Golden Donor Statue for the Taube Foundation’s decade-long support of Kraków’s non-profit sector, including the Galicia Jewish Museum, Jewish Culture Festival, JCC Krakow, Jagiellonian University, among others.
- 2016 Camera of David Award from the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival in recognition of his support of the revival of Jewish culture in Poland.
- New Publications/ Educational Resources:
- Peoplehood Papers. Co-published with the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Foundation, this collection of essays, inspired by the success of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, features Jewish museum professionals from Europe, Israel and the United States discussing how museums have re-imagined the purposes and possibilities of museum display and education in the 21st century.
- Field Guide to Jewish Warsaw and Kraków. Produced in 2012, it will be republished in 2017, updated to include Łódź. It is currently in development to become a mobile app, as well.
- Gazeta. Quarterly Newsletter of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies.
- Deep Roots New Branches: Personal Essays on the Rebirth of Jewish Life in Poland Since 1989
Deep Roots, New Branches is divided into five thematic sections, based on the age and perspective of the contributors: Fighters: Survivors who stayed in Poland or returned after the fall of the Soviet Bloc; Dreamers: Activists who dared to face down authoritarianism and reclaim their Jewish birthright; Expats: Foreigners who came, stayed, and made Poland their home; The Third Generation: Those raised in the shadow of the Iron Curtain as Communism fell; and The Millennials: Young people effecting change in today’s free and democratic Poland. To offer perspective on all these viewpoints, we included a timeline of recent Polish Jewish history from 1989 to the present.
- The image of Poland in local mass media.
- Consular care extended to Polish citizens
- Assessment how local authorities respect consular conventions and bilateral agreements.
- Detentions, arrests, deportations and extraditions of Polish citizens and pertinent assistance of Honorary Consul.
- Both Consul Kerosky and Consul Taube have made themselves available to assist Polish citizens with immigration-related issues and questions.
- Assistance extended by Honorary Consul to Polish citizens in emergency situations.
- Both Consul Kerosky and Consul Taube have extended assistance to Polish citizens in a variety of urgent circumstances including legal issues and maintain offices with bilingual staff members to assist in this effort.
- Polish-American issues
- General characteristics of the Polish Diaspora in the consular region.
- Estimated number of Poles and people of Polish origin who reside in the consular region, including Jewish communities of Polish descent;
- Number of Poles and people of Polish origin in the San Francisco Bay Area: approximately 115,000
- Number of Jews of Polish descent in the San Francisco Bay Area: approximately 138,000
- Social composition of the local “Polonia” (immigration waves, social, religious and professional characteristics; internal relations between communities
- Migration tendencies (increasing, steady or decreasing: returns to Poland);
- Estimated number of Poles and people of Polish origin who reside in the consular region, including Jewish communities of Polish descent;
- Major Polish-American organizations and scope of cooperation of Honorary Consul with them.
- The following major Polish-American organizations work with the Consulates and have links on Consul Taube’s and Consul Kerosky’s Honorary Consul website: San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association, Polonia San Francisco, Polonia in California, Polish Arts and Culture Foundation, Polish Club, Polish American Congress, Polish National Alliance #7, Łowiczanie Dance Ensemble, Polish American Social Club, East Bay Polish American Association, among others.
- support extended to Polish-American organizations and communities, including those engaged in a Polish-Jewish dialogue;
- Many activities are incorporated into the programs of the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association, which enables Consuls Taube and Kerosky to create partnerships between non-Polonia civic and cultural organizations and Polonia organizations. Please see the Sister Cities website, sfkrakow.org. The Honorary Consulates also host academic and cultural leaders from Poland at Jewish, Polish, and civic institutions to foster Polish-Jewish dialogue, listed within this report.
- Please see Section II
- Consul Taube has a close relationship with the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich. Consul Kerosky has worked closely with the Catholic Diocese of San Francisco on various matters. Both Consuls maintain relationships with the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, the largest religious educational institution in the area.
- Consul Taube is the largest American sponsor of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Built on the historic site of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Museum faces the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes’ Monument. The Museum is in dialogue with the Monument, and together, the two complete the memorial complex. Consul Taube also supported the renovation of the Przysucha Synagogue, and the renovation of Wrocław’s White Stork Synagogue’s House of Prayer.
- Structural organization of Honorary Consulate, number of employees and how many speak Polish.
- Consul Taube, competent in Polish.
- Mary Kay Stuvland, competent in Polish, represents Consul Taube in meetings.
- Shana Penn, moderate Polish, represents Consul Taube in meetings.
- Lina Broydo, moderate Polish, represents Consul Taube in meetings.
- Vilja Fussell, no Polish language.
- Vera Hannush, beginning Polish.
- Maayan Stanton, competent in Polish.
- Agnieszka Ilwicka, native Polish speaker.
- Consul Kerosky, competent in Polish.
- Paweł Trela, fluent in Polish, represents Consul Kerosky in meetings.
- Magda Zimka, fluent in Polish, represents Consul Kerosky in meetings.
- Mr. Kerosky has 30 other staff members with offices in San Jose, Sacramento, Walnut Creek, Napa, Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Los Angeles, and downtown San Francisco.
- Office hours and accessibility of Honorary Consul (e.g. regular office hours and/or on-call availability).
- Monday – Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Consulate’s amenities and work conditions, including the possibility of organizing professional consular office hours (including safe and fast Internet connection).
- Yes, the Consulates have these amenities and working conditions.
- Cooperation with Polish consular and diplomatic missions in the US.
- The Consuls cooperate and collaborate with the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Polish Consulates in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
- Other conditions determining specific functions of the Consulate (e.g. dispersal of the Diaspora).
- Potential capability of Honorary Consul to offer the following services:
- attesting authenticity of signature or handwritten mark;
- attesting conformity of a copy, excerpt, abstract or photocopy to the presented original or a certified copy of a document;
- contracting loan agreements, after prior consultation with a professional consul with regard to form and amount of the financial assistance;
- preliminary annual estimate of office expenses related to enlarged scope of services.
- Proposals and motions
- Of 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 continue to urge all Consulates to advocate on behalf of the Visa Waiver Program. The Consuls will advocate for the visa waiver both in the U.S. and in Poland.
- The Consuls will broaden and deepen their 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 Consular 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.
- Consuls Taube and Kerosky will strengthen and continue to promote the activities of the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association.
- Consul Taube will continue his support of Polish institutions, including POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
- It remains a major objective of the Consulates 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 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.
- Working together, Consul Kerosky and Consul Taube will continue to host diplomats and ordinary Polish citizens visiting the Bay Area.