Bożena Gąsiorowska


Bożena Gąsiorowska - Leader of Dialogue in Żyrardów

The training, organized by the Education Development Center, prepared us to hold meetings in Polish schools with Israeli youth. My head was filling with touching stories of unbelievable suffering, longing and grief for the lost homeland, and curiosity what is the Poland loved by these people’s ancestors like? The first meeting, held in 2008 with young people from Holon, marked the beginning of an annual school project, commemorating the history of Polish Jews, but also focusing on local history, because this was something new generations of students had no idea about. I also found my knowledge in this aspect insufficient. The visit was preceded by our discovering various traces of Jewish past in Żyrardów, learning about Jewish culture and heritage in our town, reading fragments of “Yizkor Book of Memory of the Żyrardów Jews”, which had been translated into English. The fact that young Poles felt proud that they are bringing back the forgotten memory motivated me even more.

. Then, a new inspiration appeared. Through one of the educators I met Daniel Wagner – a Belgian and an Israeli, who was engaged in the search for his ancestors, also in Żyrardów. Hence the idea to engage my students in cataloguing matzevot at our local Jewish cemetery, which has since become a frequently visited site. Two years of intensive work proved to be a success. Currently, my students and I are motivated by contacts with people, who thanks to  our work are able to find graves of their beloved ones. We assist them in their visits to the land of ancestors and we collect more and more stories, which touch our hearts and send our imagination reeling. At this point, abandoning this “mission” is impossible.