| 2013 |
Primate of the Millennium Junior High School
“What if we told you that you really know hardly anything about your town? That there were places here you were not aware of before?”, students of the School of Dialogue in Grójec start their story in the film which documents their project. During the workshops organised by the School of Dialogue they found out about many facts about their town they did know, and they understood certain facts only during workshops. For example, the statement saying “all the Mszczonowska is Jewish”, which they had not completely understood before, now became clear as there were Jewish tenement buildings in Mszczonowska Street. The Jews are no longer there, but the saying is still in use.
“In Grójec before the First World War, the Jewish population constituted 70% of the entire town population. There were synagogues in Grójec, slaughterhouses, a Jewish school. And even the entire streets were inhabited by Jews. I learned this all thanks to the project organised by the Forum for Dialogue. I was extremely touched by the history of the town which I hardly knew before”, says one of the participants of the workshops. Jews lived in Grójec from the 18th century. During the interwar period, the Jewish district in Grójec included several streets. In September 1939, the town was occupied by the German army.
The ghetto was established in November 1940. It was an open ghetto and it included Kościelna, Zatylna, Starostokowa, Nowostokowa and Stodolna Streets. The ghetto in Grójec was liquidated in February 1941. Then, the Jews were relocated to the ghetto in Warsaw. Apart from the ghetto in Grójec, the labour camp was established for Jewish prisoners who were eventually killed on July 14, 1943, in Chynów. Only 270 Jews from Grójec survived the War. “Today, there are hardly any traces proving the existence of Jewish culture here. The buildings owned by Jews were demolished or transformed in some other facilities. There are no boards or any other markings which would inform that, for example, there was a synagogue here. At present, people living in the town have no idea of its history. The workshops really gave me food for thought and I am extremely happy that I have participated in them”, says Aneta, a junior high school student from Grójec.
At one of the workshops, young people met with Mr. Remigiusz Matyjas, a historian and author of books about the Jewish Grójec. Also, students went to the town hall where a collection of photographs of the pre-war Grójec is to be viewed, as well as a vast collection of Judaica.
The exhibition was presented by Ms Anna Solecka, the exhibition curator and local history enthusiast. After the workshops, young leaders started to work on the project, being the tour following the footsteps of the Jews from Grójec, with an enormous interest. They reached for various sources, visited libraries and talked to people living in Grójec. A lot of attractions were planned.
The final walking tour following the footsteps of the Jewish community in Grójec was on November 15. Students invited town residents to participate in the event, including students from the Third Age University. All started with a visit at the town hall where participants saw the photographs depicting Grójec before the War. The photographs presented the pre-war signboards of shops: “At Tailor’”, “Powroźnik – Chaim Frydman”, “Haberdashery”, groups of smiling friends, boys in uniforms, men with hats. “Our guests recognized friends or family members in these photographs”, recalled students. The tour was a real meeting between generations, as one of the elder participants of the tour said. It turned out that everybody was a tour guide – elderly people willingly joined the stories told to share their recollections and complete those presented by students. The tour went along Lewiczyńska Street, where a mikveh, a rabbi’s house and a synagogue used to stand.
Then, they headed for Jatkowa Street where there once were Jewish slaughterhouses. Next, Mr Sebastian Krawczyk, an artist, told them about the biggest drawing on a wall that he had made on one of the tenement buildings, which presented the panorama of the market square in Grójec, according to the print from 1867. At the last point of the walking tour, at the market square, the guests participated in a quiz. Each person who gave the right answer about the Jewish history of Grójec was given a stone and a name of one of the Jewish town residents. Then, all of them went to the cemetery to commemorate the Jews from Grójec – the tour participants read the name from a piece of paper and put a stone next to the monument.
“The most interesting moment of the walking tour was the gallery and the expressions on the faces of those who looked at the photographs and often recognized their relatives”, said one of the students. And, one of the ladies who participated in the tour added: “For me, it was very emotional to put stones and read names, as if we were calling them from oblivion.” Students were surprised by the interest the walking tour attracted, in particular among elder people. During the consecutive year, the school continued its involvement with the School of Dialogue.
During the workshops I found out a lot about Jewish culture and traditions. Before I thought it was strange and did not understand it, but now I realize that it is as full of good and love as our religion – Christianity. I have a lot of respect for the Jewish people as they do not give up in the most difficult situations.
Maksym, workshops participant
In Grójec before the First World War, the Jewish population constituted 70% of the entire town population. There were synagogues in Grójec, slaughterhouses, a Jewish school. And even the entire streets were inhabited by Jews. I learned this all thanks to the project organised by the Forum for Dialogue. I was extremely touched by the history of the town which I hardly knew before.
Today, there are hardly any traces proving the existence of Jewish culture here. The buildings owned by Jews were demolished or transformed in some other facilities. There are no boards or any other markings which would inform that, for example, there was a synagogue here. At present, people living in the town have no idea of its history.
Aneta, workshops participant
Primate of the Millennium Junior High School
Finalist at 2013 School of Dialogue Gala
Continuing School of Dialogue in 2014, 2015, 2016
2nd and 3rd year students
Karolina Kochanowska, Katarzyna Pietrzak
School of Dialogue program in Grójec was made possible by the support from PIOTR LEWICKI, SŁAWOMIR ŁOPALEWSKI, TOMASZ KAPLIŃSKI.
In appreciation to Friends of the Forum for supporting the School of Dialogue educational program.