In 2022, 15 new schools joined the School of Dialogue program, and 13 of them completed a project commemorating the Jewish community. Supported by their teachers and Forum educators, the students from Będzin, Dzierżoniów, Ełk, Kozienice, Kudowa-Zdrój, Mielec, Nasielsk, Opole Lubelskie, Pabianice, Platerów, Pniewy, Sarnak, and Wicko, worked to restore the memory of the Jews who once lived in their towns.
Students invited local communities to learn about the Jewish past of their towns. They made sure that that the form in which they present information was attractive to the participants of the guided walking tours they organized around their towns and villages. In Będzin, the students hosted a scavenger hunt for the younger students. In Pabianice, Dzierżoniów, and Kozienice, the they had a similar idea to follow the traces left by the Jewish community, but added Q&A sessions and quizzes to liven up the more traditional walking tour.
Although the main task for program participants is the preparation of a either a walking tour or an online map of Jewish sites of their towns, the students from Opole Lubelskie and Sarnaki did both!
Others decided to focus their projects on a particular famous figure from their town: in Kudowa-Zdrój special attention was paid to the life and achievements of Julian Aleksandrowicz, a prewar doctor, while in Platerowo the students selected Stella Zylbersztajn, a Righteous Among the Nations, whose memoirs formed the basis of the tour. In Ełk, the students created a plaque featuring the names of Jews from Ełk, which they later mounted on one of the walls of their school dormitory. Many project groups engaged in additional initiatives: in Mielec or Pniewy they recorded the walking tours on camera to make a film, in Nasielsk they run additional tours, and in Wicko they cooperated with a local tourist organization.
On September 22, 2022 the Competition Committee featuring members of Forum for Dialogue’s Scholarly Advisory Board: Professor Stanisław Krajewski, Professor Mikołaj Herbts, as well as Monika Halaczek, Forum’s Deputy Director General, and Agnieszka Mierzwa Program Coordinator, selected the nominees and winners of the competition.
From among all the schools participating in the 2022 School of Dialogue competition for the best commemorative project, the committee selected one winner for each of the three categories: “Discovering knowledge,” “Taking action,” and “Impact on local community,” and three runners up.
All the students did a great job! They celebrated their accomplishments together during Forum’s online Project Summary event, which took place on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.
As part of the 2022 School of Dialogue Project Summary, the students were invited to participate in an online interactive game, which was both meant as a bit of fun and an opportunity to learn about other projects created by their peers during the program. The game, created by GD events and centered around the recently celebrated Sukkot, was also a way to learn which student group prepared the most accomplished commemoration.
Kudowa-Zdrój – School-Kindergarten Complex
It is worth appreciating the students effort to consult a local, well-known expert, as well as their dedication to the issue after completing the project, including a presentation of the history of Kudowa Jews to their peers from Germany.
Opole Lubelskie – Adam Mickiewicz High School
The students reached a wide audience thanks sharing information about the project and the history of the Jews of Opole. They recorded an interview with a local expert in cooperation with the Journalist Association and Opole Television.
Nasielsk – Stefan Starzyński Elementary School no 2
Students from Nasielsk cooperated with a group of descendants of Jews from Nasielsk. As they planned their walking tour of Nasielsk,they included locations important for the descendants, as well as places featured in the famous “Three Minutes in Poland” documentary footage recorded by David Kurtz in 1938.
Best project in the “Discovering history” category – Urszula Ledóchowska Congregation of the Ursulines High School in Pniewy
The student project had the largest direct audience of all the submissions, and included an array of events and activities. The students organized an entire day devoted to Jewish culture, during which they set up culinary workshops, dance workshops, art workshops (making Havdalah candles), historical workshops (recreating the prewar city plan), and language workshops (Hebrew and Yiddish). The guests could also try their hand at writing their name in Hebrew with a quill pen, while students of the law faculty discussed copyright law on the basis of the uses of Jewish works and artifacts in cultural productions.
Best project in the “Taking action” category – Jan Brzechwa Elementary School in Wicko
The students from Wicko focused their activities in Lębork, the prewar center of the area’s Jewish life. This required exceptional commitment from the participants living about 20 km from Lębork. They applied to the Parents’ Council for funding for the two trips to Lębork, to for the practice and final walking tour. They received part of the necessary funds, so after seeking the approval of the school principal, they set up a café to fundraise the reminder of the sum needed for the journey. After securing the funds, they began contacting the local Seniors’ Club, whose members they invited for the final walking tour in Lębork. Finally, the students applied to the local Lębork authorities to have the site of the synagogue commemorated. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for the success of their request.
Best project in the “Impact on local community” category – Heroes of the V2 Action Elementary School in Sarnaki
Because they worked both in-person and online, the students from Sarnki reached the widest indirect audience with their project. They organized two walking tours, the second addressed to their entire student body. They also prepared a printed guide, both in Polish and English, for anyone interested in following the traces of Sarnki Jewish community. Information about their project appeared in the local press. Their activities were noticed and, as a result, the group was invited by the organizers of the 3rd Bug River Festival of Theaters for Children “Gaducha” to take the festival participants on a walk of Jewish Sarnki.
Congratulations to the runners up and winners!
In 2022, the School of Dialogue was financed from two sources.
Project financed by the Active Citizens Fund – National financed by the Norwegian and EEA funds.
Project co-financed by Friends of the Forum, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and individual and institutional donors from Poland and abroad.
We would like to thank the following institutions for funding the awards: Austeria Publishing House, The Polish Center for Holocaust Research, Czarne Publishing House, Krytyka Polityczna Publishing House, KARTA Center, MOCAK – Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Foksal Publishing Group, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Literatura Publishing House, Iskry Publishing House, and Jewish Historical Institute.