Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz High School

The door frame in the school’s basement still bears a mark of a mezuzah. A rabbi lived here before. The Jewish school was located here. The new school was built on the foundations of the old building. Today, the students from this school take part in the School of Dialogue program, which will introduce them to the Jewish past of the town. Although here in Nasielsk there are almost no tangible traces of the Jewish residents, the town was multicultural before. The Jews started to settle in Nasielsk in 17th  century. Many of them leased taverns and distilleries, many were traders. There were 10 cheders, Jewish cultural associations and libraries. At today’s Starzyńskiego Street, a wooden, baroque synagogue stood, later replaced by a brick house of prayer, destroyed during the Nazi occupation. The Jewish cemetery was also totally destroyed, only a part of a matzeva survived. Just before the outbreak of World War Two, there were 3,500 Jews living in Nasielsk who made up half of the town’s population. It is likely that only one hundred of Jews from Nasielsk survived the war.

One of them is Maurice Chandler, born Moszek Tuchendler, who now lives in the USA. In the summer of 1938, when Maurice was 14, David Kurtz visited Nasielsk. He had emigrated to the States in the 90’s of 19th  century. He took with him a newly-bought camera for his summer in Europe. 70 years later, David Kurtz’s grandson found a film from 1938 at his parent’s house in Florida. After the restoration of the movie by the Holocaust Museum, he published it on the Internet. A year later Maurice’s daughter recognized her grandfather in the 14-year old boy with a smile that appears on the film. Glenn met with Maurice who told him about the residents of the pre-war Nasielsk. That made Nasielsk a town of Jewish life and not only death…

Students from a High School in Nasielsk, participants in the School of Dialogue program, wanted to bring back to life the pre-war Nasielsk. With the help of educators, Agata Jujeczka and Beata Godlewska, they organized a videoconference with a 90-year-old Maurice Chandler. He told them about the old customs of the Jewish youth, about the times when he would cut the buttons off from the clothes left at the synagogue to later go into a bargain match with his friends. During the talk, he recited the words of the Polish national anthem and sent out a message of common past and future.

The meeting with Mr. Zbigniew Suwiński, former school principal and historian, was also very fruitful for the students. He showed the students old photographs of the Jews from Nasielsk and a pre-war town, which acted on their imagination.

As part of the final project of the workshops, the students prepared a walking tour in the footsteps of the Jews from Nasielsk.

They also organized a screening of Glenn Kurtz film. In a 3-minute film the viewers  could see carefree residents from Nasielsk one year before the outbreak of World War II – a crowd on the steps to the synagogue, a girl with a ribbon in her hair, children excited by the visit of Americans. It was accompanied by an exhibition of photographs, prepared by the students, presenting the well-known Jewish personalities. The high-schoolers designed and prepared posters and invitations for the walking tour that they led two times – for the younger and older residents. The students also baked bagels and challah. The students documented everything on their Facebook profile, whereas the walking tour was filmed. “Thank you for allowing me to appreciate my own town and its history. It was something I needed, but I was not aware of it”,sums up one of the students in regard to the initiatives undertaken by the high-schoolers from Nasielsk.

Thank you for allowing me to appreciate my own town and its history. It was something I needed, but I was not aware of it.

Workshops participant

The work we have undertaken gave us a possibility to learn the history of our town, as well as the history of the national minorities.

Workshops participant


Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz High School
1st year students
Danuta Białorucka
Zbigniew Suwiński
Beata Godlewska, Agata Jujeczka

To read more about Nasielsk visit Virtual Shtetl:


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.

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In appreciation to Friends of the Forum for supporting the School of Dialogue educational program.