Monika Czub

Karczew / Otwock

Leaders

Ever since I was a child, I knew that Otwock’s forests are home to some strange cemetery and in the fall, mushroom pickers may stumble over strange stones in the grass. When I grew up, I lived in a neighborhood which was part of priest Wojciech Lemański’s parish. When the case of Jedwabne hit the headlines, priest Lemański’s decoration of the Holy Sepulchre [Polish church tradition for Easter] featured burnt barn doors with the figure of Jesus Christ among the burnt wood and a piece of paper reading “Forgive” taped to them. Then I stumbled upon Calek Perechodnik’s diary and thus learned how Jews had disappeared from Otwock and Karczew. And then it turned out that my parish priest Lemański and my former high school classmate Zbyszek Nosowki – currently  editor-in-chief of “Więź” Catholic periodical – formed a Social Committee for the Memory of Otwock and Karczew Jews and needed help with renovation of the Jewish cemetery in the Anielin forests. The words of John Paul II that Jews are our older brothers in faith fully sank in; as a child, I had lived in a wooden house that belonged to a Jewish family before the war… From that moment, there was no other way for me to follow… I am a natural born activist and traveler. After many turning points, my professional activism focused on coordinating human resources issues for economic migrants from Moldova and Nepal working in Poland. I am also a tour operator for foreign visitors and lead tours around Poland for Jews from all over the world.

I used to be involved in renovation works at the Jewish cemetery and conservation of memorial sites in Otwock and Karczew. Now, due to significant changes in my professional life and the numerous travels connected to it, my activism for dialogue is limited to my encounters and conversations with participants of my tours from Jewish groups I show around Poland – especially young people. These provide wonderful opportunities to talk about dialogue in all its different aspects. However, this tiny bit of my professional activity is in my opinion extremely meaningful. Its aim is to show the importance of fraternity among different people,  in this case: Jews and Christian Poles, yet the topic is universal. It so happened that most of our neighbors were members of the Jewish community and not another one; the empty places were left by the Jews, so it is them whom we as neighbors, brothers and just human beings should remember about. I notice the impact that conversations on this topic have on young Jews and Holocaust survivors I talk to, who come to Poland to see and get in touch their family roots. To them it is important that there are people here who remember and care for this memory. I see how they change their opinions about Polish anti-Semitism.

Activism

Cleanup works and fencing the Jewish cemetery in Karczew-Anielin – cooperation.

Symbolic wall and renewal of the commemorative plaque at the mass grave on Reymonta Street in Otwock – cooperation.

Annual marches of memory on August 19, on the anniversary of the liquidation of Otwock ghetto – cooperation.

Meetings and conversations about dialogue with participants of Jewish (youth and adult) group visits to Poland from Israel, the United States, France and Canada.

Monika Czub

Karczew / Otwock

contact information: monika.czub@liderzydialogu.pl