Taube Philanthropies Announces 2015 Irena Sendler Awards


Award Honors “Righteous Gentile” Sendler and Recognizes
Polish Citizens for Preserving Jewish Heritage

SAN FRANCISCO — Taube Philanthropies has named two Polish citizens whom it will honor with its 2015 Irena Sendler Memorial Award: Krzysztof Czyżewski, social activist, intellectual, and founding director of the Borderland Foundation (Fundacja Pogranicze) in Sejny, and Dr. Jan Kulczyk, Polish businessman, who donated more than $6 million to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, the largest single gift to the museum.

The Irena Sendler Memorial Award, named for a Polish social worker who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation, will be presented at two ceremonies, one in Krakow on July 3 for Krzysztof Czyżewski, and a second in Warsaw on October 13 for Dr. Jan Kulczyk.

“These two leading Polish citizens, with their historic visions of a multicultural Poland, have had profound and long-lasting impact on Polish society and helped to preserve Poland’s rich Jewish heritage,” said Tad Taube, Chairman of Taube Philanthropies and Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland in San Francisco.

Honoree Dr. Jan Kulczyk, with his generous gift of 20 million zlotys (US $6+ million) to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, enabled its world-class permanent exhibition to be completed and garner global acclaim during its October 2014 unveiling. Through his strategic giving at a critical moment in the museum’s development, Dr. Kulczyk showed the entire Polish nation the importance of the museum and the 1,000-year Polish Jewish legacy that it showcases. His gift is the largest donation made by a Polish citizen. When asked by the media why he made this generous contribution, he eloquently replied, “Life is not just a business, not just economics. We must remember what was.”

Honoree Krzysztof Czyżewski was one of the first activists who helped foster a multicultural heritage in Poland after the fall of Communism, in which Jewish heritage (history, music, and literature) plays a major part. Czyżewski established the Borderland Foundation (Fundacja Pogranicze) in Sejny in 1990, Borderland Center of Arts, Cultures, and Nations in 1991, and Borderland Publishing House (Wydawnictwo Pogranicze) as well as the magazine Krasnogruda in 1993. For his efforts, in 2014 he received the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University’s Dan David Prize (together with Pierre Noa and Saul Friedlander), which gives three awards of $1,000,000 every year in the areas of “past, present, and future.” Czyżewski received the “past” award for “history and memory.”

About the Irena Sendler Memorial Award

The Irena Sendler Memorial Award was created in 2008 by Taube Philanthropies in memory of courageous partisan Irena Sendlerowa who Yad Vashem named a “Righteous Among The Nations.” Each year, in commemoration of the May 12 anniversary of Sendler’s passing, the award is presented to Polish citizens who have been exemplary in preserving and revitalizing their country’s Jewish heritage.

Nominations are reviewed by a panel of Taube Philanthropies advisory board members and Jewish community leaders in Poland. Previous awardees include Janusz Makuch, director of the Jewish Culture Festival, Kraków; Jan Jagielski, archivist, Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute; former President Aleksander Kwaśniewski; the late Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska, who risked her life to help Irena Sendler rescue Jewish children from the ghetto; eminent scholars Prof. Dr. Maria Janion and Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs; Bogdan Zdrojewski, former Minister of Culture and National Heritage; Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw; Tomasz Pietrasiewicz, founder and director of Grodzka Gate-NN Theater in Lublin; and author, journalist, and Museum Council member Małgorzata Niezabitowska.

For more information about the award program or to schedule interviews, please email: info@taubephilanthropies.org.