Maria Skłodowska-Curie High School No 2
“Our adventure with the School of Dialogue program began on March 19. On that day, two wonderful women came to our school – Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska and Anna Geller. They made us discover our organizational skills and inspired us to take matters in our own hands and together create a big event” – students from Końskie High School said about the School of Dialogue.
During the workshops, the students discovered the history of the Jews from Końskie. They learned for example that the Jewish community existed in Końskie already in 18th century. Their main occupation was trade and craftwork, they mainly lived in the town center, close to the market square. “Konsker Cajtung”, a weekly magazine in Yiddish, had been published in Konskie since 1927. At that time, there was also a wooden synagogue, built in 1780. There was a House of Orphans and yeshiva. The Jewish community had its own cemetery at the corner of Staszica and Wjazdowa Streets.
Just before the war the Jews made up 60% of the town’s population. Inspired by the workshops, the intrigued students invaded the school library to find historic publications and discover old photographs. “From that moment on, instead of having a coffee in our cafeteria, we would spend our recess at the library. Whenever we showed up, the librarian would greet us with a pile of books about the history of our town and region”, said the students. During the walking tour around Końskie, organized with the Forum for Dialogue educators, the students found tangible traces of the local Jewish community – a wooden sukkah and the traces of mezuzah in an old Talmud-Tora school building. “We were craving for knowledge and began to reflect that what concerns the Jews from our region, also concerns us, our identity, which cannot be taken away from us or erased. We realized how little is said about it, how it is forgotten, yet so crucial”, the high school students reflected.
The students’ project consisted of two main parts: the walking tour – “A Journey” in the footsteps of the Jewish community from Końskie, and the Jewish Culture Festival which ended with a performance about tolerance. The students worked on the project in teams – there was a promotion team (leaflets, posters, invitations), a walking tour team and a festival team.
The walking tour in the footsteps of the Jewish community had several important “stops”. The first one was at the market square where now stands a memorial commemorating 22 Jews from Końskie, murdered by the German soldiers in 1939. Another stop was the territory of the ghetto. Here, the students talked about the difficult life in the ghetto and about the Righteous who helped to save the Jews during the Holocaust. The next dark stop was a building where victims were tortured. The particularly interesting stop was at the Talmud-Thora building where the traces of mezuzah are still preserved. At this stage of the walking tour, each participant could try to write his or her name in Hebrew.
The next to last stop of the tour was a place where the Jewish house of prayer used to stand. The high school students from Końskie have even undertaken action to commemorate the building. The walk ended at the house with the wooden sukkah.
After the tour, the young organizers and invited guests, fellow students and teachers, took part in the Jewish Culture Festival, prepared by the high school students, which ended with a performance “Tolerance”. The local authorities had helped the students to organize everything, allowing them to rent without charge the Town-Municipal Cultural Center Hall, which became a theater stage. The young actors performed in front of a full house, and the audience – town residents and local authorities, was very moved by the performance. “Our school project became something what actually impacted the participants of the walking tour and the festival. Adults opened themselves to teenagers and learned from them in a surprising way. We made them reflect deeper. Using facts and fun, we have managed to achieve something big”, pleased students said at the end.
None of us expected that this project will arise so much interest, that it will influence our everyday life, our perspective on the world, that it will allow us to learn about ourselves, our hidden talents and skills. Finally – we did not expect to form such an extraordinary team and create such strong relations.
Maria Skłodowska-Curie High School No 2
Finalist at 2015 School of Dialogue Gala
1st and 2nd year
Marta Eichelberger-Jankowska, Anna Geller
In appreciation to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) for supporting this educational program. Through recovering the assets of the victims of the Holocaust, the Claims Conference enables organizations around the world to provide education about the Shoah and to preserve the memory of those who perished
Program co-financed from the funds granted by Citizens for Democracy program, financed through the EEA grants.
In appreciation to Friends of the Forum for supporting the School of Dialogue educational program.