Reconnecting Ties

Irving Kempner’s Visit

June 2015

The meetings of the School of Dialogue with the descendents of Polish Jews are the moments of real dialogue. One of such meetings between the School of Dialogue students from Kalisz and Irv Kempner, whose father was from Kalisz, was held on June 2015. The students took him on a walking tour around the town, showed him where the Jewish quarter once was, they even found out where his father lived.

At the end of the meeting they gave him a gift – copies of his father’s birth certificates in two languages. The meeting was very moving and this is how Irv Kempner, a friend of the Forum, recalls it:

“I’ve always heard of my father’s town, of Kalisz, and this year for the first time I’ve had a chance to be escorted to Kalisz.

With just little to go on other than names the kids not only took us on incredible tour of Kalisz and the Jewish section of Kalisz, but they found where my father lived, which I didn’t know  about. We saw the neighborhood he lived in and then they presented me at the conclusion of the day with paperwork that included my father’s birth certificate… So I was really quite moved by having this kind of documentation, connection and understanding of the history of the town.

It’s so heartwarming to see people who are not Jewish go out of their way to preserve the history and understand the value of that history, and even though it might not be their direct history, there is an impact. Thank you to the students of dialog of Kalisz for an amazing tour of my father’s home town. I am forever in your debt for connecting me to my father’s family and their Polish Jewish heritage.”