Chęciny

Reconnecting Ties

Meeting with US participants of study tour to Poland in Chęciny

November 2010

One of the items on the Poland study tour itinerary for US American Jewish community leaders in November 2010 was a meeting with School of Dialogue participants, the first of this kind organized by Forum of Dialogue. On November 19, study tour participants visited School Complex no.2 in Chęciny, where they met the students, school principal, Chęciny mayor and Kieleckie district head. For the students, this was part of the third School of Dialogue workshop and a unique opportunity to learn more about contemporary Jewish life in the diaspora.

After an introductory session at the school, foreign guests and the students headed out on a joint walk through Chęciny’s Jewish sites. Study tour participants also visited the synagogue, which is no longer in use. Reflecting on their trip to Poland upon return home, Jewish leaders emphasized how important they found experiencing School of Dialogue program in practice and establishing personal contacts with Chęciny’s school students.

August 16th, 2017

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Meeting with Mark Halpern and Michael Tobias

November 2013

In the course of School of Dialogue workshops, students take part in a meeting with an invited guest – a representative of the local government, local activist or Jewish history scholar. This time, in the course of their final workshop session, students from Stanisław Staszic Technical Integrated High School Complex in Białystok had the opportunity to meet three very special people.

On November 14, 2013, Mark Halpern and Michael Tobias from Jewish Records Indexing-Poland genealogical group. Mr. Halpern, whose roots are in Białystok, is also the founder of BIALYgen – Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group. The meeting was also attended by a representative of Białystok’s Jewish community Łucja Lisowska, chairperson of Poland-Israel Center for Civic Education Poland Association (Stowarzyszenie Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej Polska-Izrael).

After mutual introductions, meeting participants discussed students’ impressions from School of Dialogue program. Guests also answered students’ questions about Jewish culture and traditions. The meeting made students realize the importance of their final project work for School of Dialogue program, seeing how it contributes to reestablishing ties with descendants of Białystok Jews scattered throughout the world.

August 16th, 2017

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A second visit to Sławatycze

September 2012

In September 2012, Alan Metnick returned to Sławatycze to again meet with 2011 School of Dialogue program participants. Coming back to students from the local School Complex, the guest was especially interested in learning how the School of Dialogue workshops and the experience gained from them impacted the youth involved. He was very impressed with the students and their teacher, Ms. Jolanta Buczek, who showed him student essays on difficult issues from the local history.

After the meeting, Mr. Metnick said: “Having heard students’ speak about their experience, it was clear to me that these young people understand the deep moral implications behind Forum’s workshops. Good, not evil, is being passed on to the new generations. It is happening here in Sławatycze.”

Alan Metnick’s visits to Sławatycze

September 2011

Alan Metnick, member of Sławatycze Landsmanshaft, met students from Sławatycze’s School Complex in September 2011 in the course of School of Dialogue workshops conducted at the school. Mr. Metnick had already been involved in commemorating local Jewish history through – among others – initiating the restoration of the local Jewish cemetery in 2009. After a meeting held in the school, the guest along with students and their teachers headed to the local Jewish cemetery. Mr. Metnick’s grandparents emigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The guest admitted regretting not having asked his ancestors more often about their life in Sławatycze.

For Mr. Metnick, who has been personally involved in preserving the memory of Jewish Sławatycze, meeting local youth engaged in learning about the town’s Jewish past was a memorable experience. “I hope that my presence here today has somehow contributed to the great work you are all doing here. I made some commitments to the students that I intend to make good on. This will help me stay very involved in matters pertaining to Poland and Sławatycze in the future” he stated after the visit.

August 16th, 2017

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Visit of Milwaukee Jewish Federation

September 2015

On Friday, September 4 2015, a delegation from Milwaukee Jewish Federation met the School of Dialogue alumni from Jan Matejko High School in Wieliczka. The introductory session was an opportunity not only to get to know each other’s hobbies but also to discuss vital issues related to the challenges the global society faces today and how to address them.

After the workshops the students guided a tour of Jewish Wieliczka presenting the history of the town as well as synagogues, shops and houses related to Jewish life before the war. The tour ended at the Jewish cemetery which will be taken care of by the students and teachers of the Matejko High School.

August 11th, 2017

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Visit of Jewish Leaders from Israel

September 2015

In September 2015, Israeli participants of a study trip to Poland, among them teachers, journalists, media professionals and social activists, met with the alumni of the School of Dialogue program in Krasnosielc, who guided them around the Jewish sites of their town.

Despite the fact that Krasnosielc does not have many historical buildings connected to the Jewish residents, the students managed to find and presented to their guests many historical findings of multicultural past of Krasnosielc. After their visit, the study trip participants sent their impressions about that day.

Janina Kahn-Horwitz wrote:

“I was so impressed with your seriousness and your willingness to take on this project of finding out more about the Jewish history and memory in Krasnosielc … May you continue to study throughout your lives, learning more about yourselves and others and making our world a better and more peaceful place”.

Sigal Farber wrote:

“For me, as an Israeli, as the daughter of the Jewish People, it was so touching to see you guys making research and then guiding us all through Jewish history of your hometown.”

August 11th, 2017

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Meeting with March of the Living Group from Great Britain

April 2015

On Monday April 13, students from the Primate of the Millennium Public Junior High School in Grójec took part in an extraordinary meeting. The school received a visit from a group of forty-one guests from the United Kingdom. Among the guests were students of London Business School, as well as the descendants of Jewish residents of the prewar Poland. The group came to Poland to participate in the March of the Living that was held on Thursday  April 16. The students presented their project implemented within the School of Dialogue program.

At the end of the meeting, one of the guests said: “During such meetings, as the one today, we discover that even if we live in different parts of the world, we are all THE SAME – and this is beautiful. Yet, at the same time, we are DIFFERENT – and that is really fascinating! I am a Jew and I am proud of it – many Jews feel this way. This goes the same for the Poles – they can be proud of who they are. Because everyone of us wants to be SOMEBODY, to have a feeling of belonging.”

August 11th, 2017

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August 1st, 2017

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The week-long visit of American Jewish Committee delegation to Poland – part of the Polish Jewish Exchange Program – has just finished. Our partners from the AJC arrived in Warsaw on July 16th and had the next few days filled with visits to the city’s important Jewish sites and meetings, among others with Anna Azari, Ambassador of Israel to Poland, Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Program Director of the Core Exhibition of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, representatives of Warsaw Jewish community, and home hospitality evening with the Polish alumni of the Polish Jewish Exchange Program, which was also attended by Adam Bodnar, Polish Commissioner for Human Rights.

From Warsaw the delegation left for Lublin, where the participants were hosted by The “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre. Afterwards they visited Bełżec Museum and Memorial and met with Ewa Koper, Leader of Dialogue who works there. The next day, they had an opportunity to see The Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in Markowa, Łańcut Synagogue, enjoyed a tour of Kraków’s Kazimierz Jewish Quarter and dinner with Robert Gądek of Kraków Jewish Culture Festival. Their stay ended with a study visit to the Memorial and Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Shabbat dinner at Kraków Jewish Community Centre.

Project carried out as part of the Polish/Jewish Exchange Program in collaboration with American Jewish Committe, Polish Embassy in Washington, and with the support of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.

photo J.Szkarłat

July 25th, 2017

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We are pleased to announce that Kamil Mrozowicz, a Leader of Dialogue, has received Forum’s personal development scholarship financed by David and Anna Dlugie Kliger Fund.

Kamil comes from Kucze Wielkie, a village near the town of Jedwabne. As a young man he read Jan T. Gross’s “Neighbors”, which forced him to confront the difficult history of his little homeland. Ever since, he has felt it is his duty to preserve and educate about the atrocities of the Jedwabne pogrom, as well as the rich Jewish life before the war.

With typical modesty, Kamil remarks that the thing he could be really proud of is still ahead of him. He wishes to organize an international educational youth project involving students from Jedwabne and Israel, but worries that his limited English might be an obstacle. We hope that the scholarship will enable him to realize his dream.

Kamil Mrozowicz - zdjęcie
photo M.Śmiarowski

July 14th, 2017

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Alan Silberstein’s Visit

October 2012

In October 2012, Friend of the Forum, Alan Silberstein visited Piotrków Trybunalski, where his father was born and grew up. During his visit, he met with the alumni of the School for Dialogue program, who showed him around the Jewish Piotrków. The tour, prepared by the students during the School for Dialogue workshops, included a visit to the house where Alan Silberstein’s father had lived. He was greatly impressed by the students’ dedication and enthusiasm.

The meeting was also an opportunity to share knowledge: the students presented what they learned about local Jewish history, while their guest shared his family history and personal stories. After the meeting, Alan Silberstein observed that the visit was eye-opening:: “Not only do I understand the history of the Polish-Jewish community better, but I better understand the goals of the School for Dialogue.”

Meeting with Shabbaton Participants

July 2012

In July 2012, alumni of the School of Dialogue from Piotrków Trybunalski had a unique opportunity to meet the descendants of Jews from their town. Local high school students spent the entire day accompanying participants of the Shabbaton, a meeting of Jews and descendants of Jews from Piotrków.

A joint tour of Piotrków was a very moving experience for all because the Jewish guests shared their personal stories as they passed buildings or places connected to their family history.. The four Holocaust Survivors from Piotrków, who were part of the group, recounted what life was like in the city before and during the Second World War.

These testimonies, delivered in fluent Polish, made history come alive for the School of Dialogue students who could know it only from books and documents. The tour included visit to the Jewish cemetery which for some members of the group was the first opportunity to visit their ancestors’ graves.

Having spent so much emotional time with the visitors, the students gladly accepted the invitation to join the Shabbat dinner organized for the Jewish visitors. Jacek Bykowski, representative of the Piotrków City Hall, expressed satisfaction about the outcome of the School of Dialogue program and hoped for further cooperation in this field.

July 12th, 2017

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