The Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam has an exellent collection of objects, and it would be great if they would lent part of their collection to the The Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Joods Historisch Museum also shows the present life and post-war life and community building of the damaged Dutch jewish community. There were so few jews left that for a long time you could harly speak about a vibrant jewish life outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
But the Museum shows in color and black and white images and video's that despite the destruction of that vast majority of jews, jewish life returned. People married with fellow jews of the Netherlands and often with foreign European, AMerican or Israeli jews. Ofcourse a lot of Dutch male and female jews married with non jews too. The jewish guys who married non-Jewish Dutch women knew that their children would not be considered as jews by the jewish orthodoxy and many progressive (liberal/conservative) jews too. Some father jews went to the complicated process of conversion, which is called 'Giur'. In the Netherlands the jewish community consists of 52 thousand people. In Poland the Jewish community is smaller, but growing. I am curious what they will show about the history of Polish Judaism and the present jewish life in Poland?
They are going to open the Polish Jews Museum in Warsaw this Friday:
Poland’s new Jewish museum to celebrate life, not revisit the Holocaust By Roy Gutman McClatchy Newspapers Posted: Monday, Jun. 03, 2013 WORLD NEWS JEWISHMUSEUM 3 MCT Museum of the History of Polish Jews - MCT
The reconstructed ceiling of a wooden-roofed synagogue is a highlight of one of the principal galleries in Warsaw's new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
WARSAW, Poland In the heart of the former Warsaw ghetto, where Jews rebelled against their German oppressors 70 years ago, Poland is unveiling a new museum to commemorate 1,000 years of Jewish life and culture.
Yet the $100 million Museum of the History of Polish Jews, whose gala inauguration Friday is timed to coincide with the anniversary of that uprising, is not meant to be another museum to the Nazi Holocaust. While one major gallery will be devoted to the mass killings of World War II that turned Poland into the primary killing ground for European Jews, seven others will show the history of Jews in this region starting from their migration in the 10th century.
“It is not another museum of the Holocaust. It is a museum of life,” said Sigmund Rolat, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who chairs the museum’s North American council. “Young people, especially Americans, usually learn only about the German concentration camps. It’s important to see Auschwitz, but it’s more important to see where Jews lived for a thousand years and where they have created so much.”
Retrieving a Polish 10-zloty ($3) note from his briefcase, Rolat noted that Prince Mieszko I, the 10th century ruler pictured on the front of the bill, had commissioned Poland’s first coin, which had Hebrew lettering, shown on the reverse. The minters at the time were Jewish, most likely the descendants of traders who settled here that same century.
The museum, designed by Finnish architect Rainer Mahlamaki, is an understated glass-covered box of a building whose most dramatic feature is its entry hall, a deep crevice surrounded by undulating walls, symbolizing the hope and despair that characterized the Jewish experience in Poland. It’s still a work in progress; its core exhibit has yet to be installed, leaving many questions open about just how a millennium of Jewish life will be depicted.
The museum design supports two related goals. The permanent displays, which will be in below-ground galleries, will recount the rich but tragic history of what was once the world’s biggest Jewish community, while the spacious upper floors are to host an impressive new cultural center for Warsaw.
“The Holocaust is generally told as a story in the history of anti-Semitism, and this story is much broader, much richer and much deeper than the history of anti-Semitism,” said Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett of New York University, one of the principal curators. “The world should not know more about how they died than how they lived. It is our mission to communicate how they lived.”
The museum won’t shy from the darkest periods of Polish-Jewish relations, said museum officials. It is to recount the history of anti-Semitic pogroms, from the mid-17th century to the Kielce massacre after World War II. It will tell the story not just of Poland’s “righteous Gentiles” who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II, but of the Poles who turned Jews in to the Gestapo, knowing they would be executed.
Scholars are assembling a vast database that will allow visitors of Polish Jewish descent to look up their town of origin. The aim is “you press a button, say I want to see my town, and the museum will surround you with information, visually and in all other forms,” said Peter Jassem, the museum’s Polish-born Canadian representative.
In designing the building with an outwardly boxy appearance, architect Mahlamaki – whose plan was chosen from among 250 entries from 36 countries – intentionally sought to avoid upstaging the monument to the heroes of the Jewish ghetto uprising, which stands across from the main entrance, Jassem said.
“From an architect’s point of view, this place in the heart of the former Warsaw ghetto, calls for respect,” said Jassem, himself an architect. “You cannot overpower this place by overdramatic architecture. The outside is very simple. . . . The interior tells the story.”
The wave-shaped entrance hall is intended to symbolize the parting of the Red Sea that allowed Moses to lead the ancient Hebrews out of Egypt and into the promised land – but also the deep chasm representing the near complete rupture of Jewish life here caused by the Holocaust.
Poland once counted 3.3 million Jews among its population; today there are a few more than 7,000, according to museum officials.
Possibly the most important feature of Mahlamaki’s design is the light that floods large parts of the upper stories, said Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Poland’s consul general in New York. There is light everywhere, “light on your heart, light on your brain, light on your stereotypes.”
In other Jewish museums, the Holocaust “is a very defining feature of their architecture,” said NYU’s Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, “and our architecture says light, reflection, luminosity. It says transparency.”
Unlike most history museums, the actual displays, to be installed by next summer, will be largely digitized, with the spotlight more on interactive presentations than on static displays of religious or other artifacts. Much was destroyed under the Nazi occupation, including nearly all the 300 Jewish religious buildings in Warsaw, Jassem said.
The single most colorful artifact is a reconstruction, slightly below scale, of the extraordinary painted ceiling of a 17th century wooden synagogue in Gwozdziec, in today’s Ukraine. It, too, was destroyed during World War II.
Altogether, 175 religious or historical objects will be on display.
But that small number reflects what seems to be a tense relationship of the new facility’s leadership with Warsaw’s Jewish Historical Institute, just a half-mile away and also within the bounds of the onetime ghetto.
The institute is located in cramped quarters in one of the only buildings to survive the Nazi onslaught. It is built around a vast archive of the history of Polish Jews, a big stock of paintings, a library of at least 80,000 books, and some 20,000 religious and historical objects in storage. In short, the institute has everything the new Jewish museum does not, and the new museum has the space that the institute is lacking.
The institute director, Pawel Spiewak, told McClatchy on Thursday that he still was not sure about the mission of the new museum and how it envisioned the two institutions cooperating. Would not some sort of merger be in order? It all depends on who becomes the permanent director of the new museum, Spiewak said.
“We have the knowhow, the people and the documents. They have nothing,” he said. As for a merger, “not everything that is logical is wise.”
Staff at the historical institute in fact first proposed building the new museum in 1995, but it didn’t take off until Lech Kachinski, who served as mayor of Warsaw from 2002 to 2005 and then went on to become the president of Poland, threw his support behind it.
“There is no history of Poland without the history of the Jews,” Junczyk-Ziomecka, the Polish consul general in New York, quoted him as saying. But he set a priority first to build a museum to commemorate the Warsaw uprising, which occurred in 1944 and which, under post-World War II communist rule was a taboo subject. That museum is an enormous success, attracting a half-million visitors a year – similar to the predictions for the new Jewish museum.
Kachinski, who died in a plane crash in 2010, set up a public-private partnership under which the city and national governments contributed the cost of the building, some $60 million, and had Jewish leaders raise from private sources the $40 million needed for the exhibits.
Although Poland today has a tiny number of Jews, interest in Jewish history and culture is on the rise, according to Rolat, who chairs annual music festivals in Warsaw and Krakow that draw tens of thousands of Poles, almost all Roman Catholics. He speaks of a “great renaissance of Jewishness” and contrasts Polish attitudes to anti-Semitic incidents in France and other countries.
Rolat, who’s 82, was born in Czestochowa, a major pilgrimage site for Polish Catholics, and spent his early teens in the Hasaj concentration camp in that same town. He lives in New York but says he feels completely comfortable visiting his birthplace now.
“It has long been the most Catholic city in Poland, but on the whole, the relationship between Jewish Poles and Catholic Poles has been good,” he said. “I feel very safe walking the streets of my native Czestochowa, and here.”
McClatchy special correspondent Barbara Dziedzic contributed to this report. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @roygutmanmcc
Poles posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations 28.01.2016 12:16 Two Poles, Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, have been posthumously honoured as Righteous Among the Nations for their work saving Jews during WWII, at an awards ceremony attended by US President Obama. Walery and Maryla Zbijewski.
"The Talmud teaches that if a person destroys one life, it is as if they have destroyed an entire world. And if a person saves one life, it is as if they’ve saved an entire world. What an extraordinary honour to be with you as we honour four Righteous individuals whose courage is measured in the lives they saved,” President Obama said during the awards ceremony at the embassy of Israel in Washington on Wednesday.
Walery and Maryla Zbijewski were Poles who harboured a Jewish girl for months during World War II, protecting her from the Nazis, despite the fact that their own life was in danger.
The Yad Vashem authority, which recognises non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust, said: “Janina Ferster and her daughter Elżbieta managed to flee the ghetto and go into hiding. After staying for two months at the home of acquaintances, Tadeusz and Eugenia Kucharski, who also received recognition as Righteous, Janina brought her daughter to the home of Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, until she was able to rent an apartment under a false name and take her daughter back.
"Despite the enormous danger – the Germans publicly announced that helping Jews would be punished by death – the Zbijewskis cared for Elżbieta and protected her until her mother was able to collect her.”
The honour was also awarded to Americans Roddie Edmonds and Lois Gunden. - See more at: www.thenews.pl/1/11/Artykul/238393,Poles-posthumously-named-Righteous-Among-the-Nations#sthash.gfK3LgUE.dpuf
President opens museum honouring Poles who helped Jews 17.03.2016 19:59 President Andrzej Duda on Thursday opened a museum dedicated to Poles who rescued Jews during WW II.
The museum, in the village of Markowa, south-eastern Poland, is named in honour of the Polish Ulma family, who were shot there by the country’s Nazi-German occupiers for sheltering Jews.
“Poland, and historical justice, very much needed such a monument,” Duda said.
The museum is the first in this country dedicated to all Poles who risked their lives to help their fellow Jewish citizens facing the Holocaust.
“Many people come to our country to see the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp [run by Nazi Germans in occupied Poland during the war] and other evidence… of what hate means, what sick ideology means,” Duda said.
“But, fortunately, in recent years other places are appearing in our country. Other places marking what is good in history. What is beautiful, even in the most tragic episodes in history. This museum is certainly such a place.”
On 24 March 1944, German policemen shot eight Jews who were being sheltered by Józef and Wiktoria Ulma. The couple and their six children were also killed.
In 1995, Israel's Yad Vashem institute posthumously named the Ulma family Righteous Among the Nations.
Over 6,600 ethnic Poles are commemorated in Israel's Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem for aiding Jews during World War II. - See more at: www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/245129,President-opens-museum-honouring-Poles-who-helped- Jews#sthash.QnO9ncR9.dpuf
Poland survived with dignity thanks to Poles who rescued Jews: President Duda 18.03.2016 10:06 President Andrzej Duda handed out state honours to 53 Poles, many of them posthumous awards, for saving the lives of Jews during WWII, at a ceremony on Thursday. President Andrzej Duda (R) awarding Poles who helped Jews. Photo: PAP/Darek DelmanowiczPresident Andrzej Duda (R) awarding Poles who helped Jews. Photo: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz
“With hundreds of thousands of Poles who saved Jews during World War II, the Polish nation managed to survive with dignity. Thanks to them, Poland can be proud today,” Duda said at the award ceremony in Łańcut in south-eastern Poland.
“For centuries, Poles and Jews lived in symbiosis in these areas; common neighbours living together, and doing everyday things, conducting business, building their personal life, families, and a successful career,” President Duda said.
This, the president said, lasted until the day when Poland was attacked by Nazi forces and then the Soviet Union and “disappeared from the map”.
“There was no Polish state in institutional and geographical terms, and there was no one who could directly defend the people living here,” Duda added. - See more at: www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/245143,Poland-survived-with-dignity-thanks-to-Poles-who-rescued-Jews-President-Duda#sthash.FQ2rX3tz.dpuf
Polish saviours of Jews honoured at zoo 08.04.2016 16:08
Several Poles who aided Jews during WWII were honoured on Thursday at a zoo with a remarkable past. The medal ceremony at Warsaw Zoo. Photo: PAP/Tomasz GzellThe medal ceremony at Warsaw Zoo. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell
The medals are named after Jan and Antonina Żabiński, former zookeepers, The couple gave temporary shelter to some 300 Jews on the zoo's grounds during the war.
The honours were instigated by From the Depths, an organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and the protection of Jewish heritage.
“This is my duty as a human being to say thank you for those who did so much for my people,” said Jonny Daniels, the founder and executive director of From the Depths.
“In honouring them I’m giving them the respect they should have received a very, very long time ago.” - See more at: www.thenews.pl/1/6/Artykul/247952,Polish-saviours-of-Jews-honoured-at-zoo#sthash.vRGbe8fN.dpuf
Katowice pays tribute to Polish and Hungarian war-time heroes 01.04.2016 11:18 A square in the southern Polish city of Katowice, close to the International Congress Centre, has been named after Henryk Sławik and Jozsef Antall who worked together in saving some 5,000 Polish Jews in Hungary during World War II. Last year a monument to them was unveiled there. Plaque in Katowice in honour of Henryk Sławik. Photo: Michał Bulsa/Wikimedia CommonsPlaque in Katowice in honour of Henryk Sławik. Photo: Michał Bulsa/Wikimedia Commons
Sławik was a Polish politician and diplomat who created the Citizens’ Committee for Help to Polish Refugees in Hungary and became a delegate of the Polish Government-in-exile. He worked closely with Jozsef Antall Senior (the father of the future Hungarian Prime Minister).
After Polish refugees of Jewish descent were separated from their colleagues after racial decrees issued by the Hungarian government, Sławik provided them with false documents confirming their Polish roots and Roman Catholic faith.
Jewish children were not, however, deprived of their identity, with clandestine classes in Hebrew and the Old Testament organized for them.
Following the Nazi takeover of Hungary, Sławik went underground and arranged for Polish Jews to leave Hungary. He was arrested by the Germans in March 1944. Although brutally tortured he did not betray Antall and his Hungarian friends.
He was hanged in the Mauthausen concentration camp, Austria. Both Sławik and Antall were posthumously given the title of the Righteous Among the Nations by Israel for saving Jews.
The deputy mayor of Katowice, Waldemar Bojarun, said during a ceremony on Thursday that the extraordinary friendship between the two men, which had a tragic end, saved thousands of human lives and is a source of pride for the city. Henryk Sławik lived there for most of his life, until the outbreak of World War II.
Peter Pflinger, deputy mayor of Miskolc, northeastern Hungary, a twin city of Katowice, said: “We are grateful to our Polish friends, particularly the residents of Katowice, for cultivating Polish-Hungarian friendship.”
The ceremony coincided with the Hungarian Day observed in Katowice. Its programme also included a lecture entitled “Poland and Hungary in 1956 – a common cause” and a concert at the city’s Music Academy - See more at: www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/246925,Katowice-pays-tribute-to-Polish-and-Hungarian-wartime-heroes#sthash.qFIMlCpV.dpuf
Poland among safest European countries for Jews: Holocaust foundation chief 07.07.2016 10:27
Polish President Andrzej Duda’s condemnation of anti-Semitism earlier this week reflects the fact that Poland has become one of the safest European countries for Jews, the head of a European Holocaust foundation has said.
President Andrzej Duda at a Jewish cemetery in Kielce. Photo: PAP/Piotr PolakPresident Andrzej Duda at a Jewish cemetery in Kielce. Photo: PAP/Piotr Polak
The Algemeiner, a US-based Jewish newspaper, asked Jonny Daniels, executive director of From the Depths - an international organisation dedicated to preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to the protection of Jewish heritage - about his reaction to Duda’s speech at the anniversary of a 1946 massacre of Jews in Kielce, southern Poland.
“Such behavior must be condemned,” Duda said, speaking at Monday’s commemorations of the killing of some 40 Jewish residents by their neighbours 70 years ago.
Duda said that the Polish state strives to guarantee security to all its citizens “regardless of their background, their religious convictions or lack thereof, and the language that is closest to their heart.”
Daniels said that Duda “reiterated what the government has been saying for a long time - that there is no place for anti-Semitism and racism in Poland. His words are remarkably important.”
Referring to Poland, Daniels told The Algemeiner: “It is entirely different to the feeling you have as a Jew today in Paris, Brussels or Berlin, where walking around with a kippah [yarmulka] isn’t an option.”
Daniels added: “At the ceremony for the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising organized by TSKZ — the largest Jewish organization in Poland — for the first time ever, the president and prime minister of Poland were in attendance.
“Duda then visited the monument in the Warsaw Jewish cemetery, the first president to do so."
The Algemeiner pointed out that Duda’s call echoed recent remarks by Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party, at a ceremony commemorating the burning of a synagogue in Białystok, north-eastern Poland, during the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, in March President Duda condemned anti-Semitism while opening a museum dedicated to Poles who rescued Jews during WW II. The museum, in the village of Markowa, south-eastern Poland, is named in honour of the Polish Ulma family, who were shot there by the country’s Nazi-German occupiers for sheltering Jews.
The Kielce Pogrom was carried out on 4 July 1946, ten months after the official end of World War II.
As many as 42 people died in the massacre, and the crime prompted thousands of Jews who had survived the war to emigrate from Poland.
Poles who preserve country’s Jewish heritage awarded October 25, 2016 5:55am 12shares
WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Poles involved in the preserving of Jewish heritage in Poland received awards during two separate ceremonies in Warsaw.
Professor Ewa Geller received the Jan Karski & Pola Nirenska Award during an award ceremony at the Jewish Historical Institute.
Geller teaches at Warsaw University’s Department of Neophilology. She earned a PhD degree in 1988 with her dissertation on Polish and East Slavic influences on the Yiddish on the center of I. B. Singer’s works. In 2007, Geller was named Associate Professor at Warsaw University. One of her works is a 17th century health vade mecum in Yiddish, which Geller found in Vienna and translated into Polish.
“I have a deep conviction that without Ewa Geller there would be no contemporary Polish Yiddish research and without Yiddish research there would be no dynamic development of Jewish studies in Poland,” Dr. Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov, a member of the jury, said during the ceremony.
Geller dedicated her award to all Polish researchers of Yiddish. “Keep it up!” she said.
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews awarded its Polin Awards to local activists. Jacek Koszczan of Dukla, Robert Augustyniak of Grodzisk Mazowiecki, and Miroslaw Skrzypczyk of Lelow were honored. A special award was bestowed on Jan Jagielski from the Jewish Historical Institute.
“The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is an important element and the achievement of our common history,” Minister of Culture Piotr Glinski said during the ceremony. “All across boundaries, we are proud that we have such an institution that promotes important values and norms.”
The award ceremony in the museum was also the beginning of the three-day “Made in Polin” Festival, organized by the museum. During the festival, residents of Warsaw and tourists could visit exhibitions, participate in workshops, cooking demonstrations, and meet the artists and writers involved in promoting Jewish culture.
There many Polish families like the Ulma family in Poland, and I know there were such families in the Netherlands and other European countries too. But the secret underground support for jews was the largest in Poland. You even had a special Armia Krajowa section for that purpose, Zegota.
Kristina Keren (Krystyna Chirowski) was seven years old when her family escaped from the massacres in Lwow and went into hiding in the city's sewers. For almost one and a half years they remained in the underground tunnels, never seeing daylight, and completely dependent on the help of Leopold Socha, a Polish sewer worker of the municipality.
Leopold Socha, sewage inspector in Lwow
Leopold "Poldek" Socha (August 28, 1909 – May 12, 1946) was a Polish sewage inspector in the city of Lvov (now Lviv, Ukraine). During the Holocaust Socha used his knowledge of the city's sewage system to shelter a group of Jews from Nazi Germans and their supporters of different nationalities. In 1978 he was recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations.
Socha lived in a poor neighborhood of Lwow and worked for the municipal sanitation department and secretly as a burglar thief. In 1943, he began hiding twenty Jewish refugees in sewage canals. The Jews had fled their ghetto through their floorboards to evade Nazi capture.
Initially the Jews paid their benefactors, but eventually ran out of money. Socha, his wife Magdalena, and a co-worker named Stefan Wróblewski continued feeding and sheltering the refugees with their own resources. They aided the group for fourteen months, the duration of the war. Ten of the twenty Jewish refugees survived.
Stefan Wróblewski, co-worker of Socha in the Lwow sewers
In 1946 Socha and his daughter were riding their bicycles when a Soviet military truck came careening toward them. He steered his bicycle in her direction to knock her out of the way, saving her but dying in the process. After his death the Jewish people Socha had sheltered returned to pay their respects.
On May 23, 1978, Yad Vashem of Israel recognized Leopold and Magdalena Socha as Righteous Among the Nations. In 1981 Stefan Wroblewski and his wife received the same honor.
Socha was portrayed in the 2011 Agnieszka Holland film In Darkness, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.
Survivor Krystyna Chiger recounted her time as a child in the sewers being aided by Socha to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education.
Krystyna Chiger, her parents her brother Pawelek Chiger
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising anniversary remembered 19.04.2017 15:02 Events around the Polish capital on Wednesday marked the 74th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Polish PM Beata Szydło and Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Radek PietruszkaPolish PM Beata Szydło and Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich on Wednesday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
Prime Minister Beata Szydło and other leading politicians, including the head of the opposition Civic Platform party Grzegorz Schetyna, attended commemorations at the site of the former Ghetto.
The Jewish insurgency against the Polish capital's Nazi German occupiers was launched on 19 April 1943, with about 1,000 poorly armed partisans taking up the fight.
Tens of thousands of paper daffodils were handed out on the streets of the Polish capital on Wednesday by volunteers from the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The initiative was initiated by the museum in 2013, on the 70th anniversary of the rising.
Daffodils are associated with noted insurgent and later Solidarity activist Marek Edelman, who placed daffodils at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes each year on the anniversary of the uprising.
The flowers mark a poignant contrast with the yellow stars that Jews were made to wear during the Nazi German occupation.
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began after the Germans launched the second large wave of deportations from the ghetto, which started on 18 January 1943.
The uprising was launched on 19 April, with insurgents holding out for close to a month, until the revolt was finally crushed on 16 May 1943.
It is estimated that about 13,000 Jews died in the ghetto during the revolt. It had been the largest ghetto created by the Germans on Polish soil. The majority of the captured survivors were transported to death camps, marking the final liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Some surviving Jewish combatants, including Marek Edelman, later fought in the Warsaw Uprising, launched by Poland's underground Home Army (AK) on 1 August 1944. (rg/pk)
Warsaw church named ‘House of Life’ for helping Jews 07.06.2017 15:51 The Roman Catholic All Saints Church in Warsaw, which provided help to Jews in World War II during the Nazi German occupation of Poland, has been recognized as a “House of Life”. Samuel Tenembaum (left) at the plaque unveiling ceremony. Photo: PAP/Jakub KamińskiSamuel Tenembaum (left) at the plaque unveiling ceremony. Photo: PAP/Jakub Kamiński
A ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque in the church on Wednesday was attended by representatives of the government and Jewish organizations, Catholic Church leaders, the diplomatic corps, and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
The Church of All Saints, which is located within the perimeter of what was the city’s Jewish Ghetto during World War II, provided wide-ranging assistance to Jews.
Help for fleeing Jews
It issued false baptismal certificates to hundreds of Jews who decided to escape from the ghetto, offered meals and accommodation on the parish premises and placed Jewish children in an orphanage set up in a Warsaw suburb in a house that belonged to the family of the parish priest, Father Marceli Godlewski.
In 2009, Father Godlewski was posthumously awarded a Righteous among the Nations medal from the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem.
Samuel Tenembaum, the son of the founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, said during the ceremony that after the Nazi German invasion of Poland, Father Godlewski could not stand idly by and “provided shelter and food to Jews within the walls of this church, even though he realized that offering any kind of assistance to Jews was punishable by death.”
‘Darkness could not defeat it’
“Life has its headquarters in this church and darkness could not defeat it,” he said.
In a letter to participants in the ceremony, President Andrzej Duda described Poles who risked their lives to help Jews as “the nation’s heroes”.
The House of Life project is an initiative by the Wallenberg Foundation, named after a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews while serving as Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest in 1944.
Its goal is to identify and mark sites across Europe (mainly churches, convents, and monasteries) that served as shelters for the victims of German Nazi persecution and extermination during World War II.
The inscription on the plaque reads: “This building served as shelter to innocent people who were persecuted by the Nazis. The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is proud to declare this site as a House of Life in tribute to rescuers who upheld the values of solidarity and civic courage in accordance with the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg.”
Irena Sendler, a woman who saved 2500 Jewish children during WW2, died at the age of 98 a few days ago.
Sendler during the war
Polish parliament declares 2018 year of Irena Sendler 09.06.2017 09:22 Polish parliament on Thursday voted to dedicate 2018 to the memory of Irena Sendler, who saved hundreds of mainly Jewish children during WWII.
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Sendler's death.
A total of 436 MPs voted in favour of the commemoration during a sitting on Thursday, with only one MP abstaining.
As an employee of the Social Welfare Department of the city of Warsaw during WWII, Irena Sendler had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of typhus, thanks to which she was able to smuggle the children out of the Ghetto and find Christian families and monasteries to take care of them.
In 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and sentenced to death. She was eventually saved prior to the execution.
Irena Sendler died on 12 May 2008, aged 98. She held the Righteous Among Nations title from the Yad Vashem Remembrance Institute in Jerusalem and the honorary citizenship of Israel. Her honours include the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest state distinction.
She also received a personal letter from Pope John Paul II praising her wartime efforts.
On 30 July 2008, the US House of Representatives adopted a resolution in remembrance of Irena Sendler and in 2009 she posthumously received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from The Sister Rose Thering Endowment in the United States and the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award.
Irena Sendler’s story was re-discovered in 1999 by three American high-school girls who wrote and produced a documentary play about Irena Sendler entitled ‘Life in a Jar’. (rg)
Polish couple named Righteous Among Nations for saving Jews in WWII 20.10.2017 17:11 A Polish couple has been honoured with a Righteous Among the Nations award for risking their lives to save Jews during World War II. Ninety-nine-year-old Aleksandra Cybulska (right) congratulated by the Israeli embassy's Ruth Cohen-Dar. Photo: PAP/Adam WarżawaNinety-nine-year-old Aleksandra Cybulska (right) congratulated by the Israeli embassy's Ruth Cohen-Dar. Photo: PAP/Adam Warżawa
The award was presented on Thursday in the northern city of Gdynia by the deputy Israeli ambassador to Poland, Ruth Cohen-Dar.
It honours Aleksandra Cybulska, a Polish woman who will turn 100 in November, and posthumously her husband Kazimierz Cybulski, who died in 2002 at the age of 94.
The couple saved a Jewish child from the Holocaust, according to the Israeli embassy.
The Righteous Among the Nations award is the highest Israeli civilian distinction. Recipients receive a medal with a quote from the Talmud saying: "Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."
In total, 26,513 people had received the honour by January 1 this year. Around a quarter of them -- 6,706 -- were Poles.
Ten Poles awarded Righteous among the Nations medals 16.01.2018 09:00 Ten Poles have been posthumously honoured with the Righteous among the Nations award for risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Photo: PAP/Jacek TurczykPhoto: PAP/Jacek Turczyk
The medals were awarded at a special ceremony held at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on Monday, attracting a number of attendees, including the survivors’ children.
Gershon Feder, whose mother was saved by Pole Karolina Denkiewicz, said in a speech: "She saved my mother’s life in the city of hell during the Holocaust".
Speaking about the Poles awarded at the ceremony, Feder said: "Ms. Denkiewicz and the other Polish heroes being honoured today showed great courage and humanity during one of the darkest chapters in mankind’s history”.
Apart from the survivors' relatives, the ceremony was attended by prominent officials, including Israel's Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari.
The title "Righteous among the Nations," the highest Israeli civilian distinction, has been awarded since 1963 by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem to those who helped Jews during World War II.
Some 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland’s territory at the outbreak of World War II. Poles constitute the largest national group among the Righteous Among the Nations.
A flame from post-Holocaust Jewish life in Poland brought to Israel The Ner HaTamid [Eternal Light] was honored at the central synagogue in Tanow, Poland. The building was destroyed, but now found its way to Israel. By Hagay Hacohen December 23, 2018 16:57 Ner HaTamid from Tarnow was returned to Jewish hands by a local Pole . (photo credit: SHEM OLAM) For 73 years, the only known physical evidence of the once-thriving Jewish life in the Polish city of Tarnow was the bima (stage on which Jewish worshipers read the Torah) that survived after the Germans looted and burned the synagogue down, bringing to an end a Jewish community that thrived since the 15th century and included one half of Tarnow’s residents.
And then Rabbi Avraham Kriger, from the Shem Olam Faith and Holocaust Institute, received a phone call. On the other end was a Polish resident of Tarnow with news: During the years of German occupation, his father accumulated various Jewish artifacts, including the ner tamid (the sanctuary lamp that burns constantly) that hung in the now-demolished synagogue. The function of the lamp in synagogues is to serve as a reminder of the eternal light in the Temple that stood in Jerusalem. The lamp was not made from any precious metals, and so it was discarded by the Germans. The Polish man asked Rabbi Kriger if perhaps Shem Olam and the Jewish community would like to have it back.
With the collapse of socialist Poland and the creation of the new Polish democracy, the new administration returned publicly owned Jewish assets, such as houses of prayer, graveyards and bath houses, to current Jewish communities. Likewise, many Poles also returned Jewish items to the newly opened Polin Museum to be displayed.
Noting that “most among those who have such items trade them in or horde them” and don’t return them to Jewish hands, Kriger stressed how unique it is to have had the chance to bring such a historical Jewish item to Israel.
A flame from post-Holocaust Jewish life in Poland brought to Israel