| 2011 |
Nicolaus Copernicus High School No 1
They visited old townhouses with bannisters remembering 1920s’. They dug out old photos from the City Archive. They made a miniature of the Radom synagogue. They learnt what was before the Second World War in almost each of townhouses along Rwańska, the most famous Jewish street in Radom. They told stories about their old inhabitants: broom-maker Icek Ajchental and tailor Motek Szudlam lived at no 1, at no 3 Abram Frydman, who made things of China and faience. At no 4 there was a wringer’s owned by Michalina Kwiek. Numbers 5 and 7 were where you could buy some clothes, at 8 there was a feldsher, Abram Finkielsztajn. No 13 housed the Jewish Folk Choir and a kindergarten of Estera Finkler. All corners of the city had their own history, every building its own distinct inhabitants. During the School of Dialogue the city spoke to the students and now they know it by heart – both Radoms, the modern one, and the multi-cultural one before the war.
The city was then inhabited by Poles, Germans, Roma, Russians and Jews. First minority to come were the Jews – in the middle of the 16thcentury. In 1827 they numbered 23% of the city population, to reach 40% a century later. Jews mostly dealt in services, trade and crafts, co-building the foundations of the Radom industry.In the spring of 1941 two ghettoes were created in Radom: a small one in the Glinice district and a large one downtown. Together they contained 33 thousand Jews forcibly moved from the city and its surroundings. The ghettoes existed until November 1942, when Jews were transported to the Treblinka death camp. 2.5 thousand Jews remained in the city as forced labour, until July 1944. Only several hundred Radom Jews survived the war, but most of them left the city then.
During the School of Dialogue workshops the students were keen to learn about history and culture of Radom Jews. Comparisons between Jewish and Christian feasts were particularly interesting for them. They also met an expert – Sebastian Piątkowski, a local historian and an employee of the city archive. He inspired the students with his stories, he also invited them to see the Judaica section of the archive and he rooted for their project.
A well-organized trip was the student project within the School of Dialogue, following in the footsteps of Radom Jews. The students not only gathered a lot of difficult-to-find information, prepared a long and varied route, but also they enhanced the walk with various activities: maps, quizzes, puzzles, photos, drawings and plans of the old Radom. They even managed to involve their parents – a father of one of the students prepared a miniature of the Radom synagogue.
During the 2-hour walk the students guided their teachers and colleagues around the interesting points of Jewish Radom, like the place where the Jewish market used to be, or the synagogue (not there any more, but a beautiful miniature did the job). Two old Jewish hospitals, a townhouse where a famous Newsweek photographer Bernard Gotfryd used to live, a psychiatric hospital where Jews were sheltered during the war, Rwańska street and a Jewish cemetery were also on the route.
The students’ work was appreciated not only by a distinction at a School of Dialogue Gala in Warsaw, but also with warm words of appreciation from the descendants of Radom Jews, who were taken on tours of the city of their grandfathers by the graduates of the School of Dialogue from Nicolaus Copernicus High School in Radom.
Thanks to this experience I can easly say many interesting facts to other people, people that did not take part in the program. I remember how surprised my dad was, when on the way to school I started to explain to him quickly about ghetto, Jewsh streets etc. I am happy to have such knowledge!
Martyna, workshops participant
I am nicely surprised. Although I’ve lived all my life in Radom, and I am 17 year old now, I was not aware that I had spent first 10 years of my life in the apartment building perviously owned by Jews. (…) It is disturbing that for the first glimpse it is so hard to notice in Radom any remnants of Jewish past.
Magda, workshops participant
Nicolaus Copernicus High School No 1
Honorable Mention at 2011 School of Dialogue Gala
Continuing School of Dialogue in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
1st year students
Agnieszka Brzeska-Pająk, Ewa Kutyła
Karolina Kochanowska, Monika Oszmaniec
School of Dialogue program in Radom was made possible by the support from MINDY and IRVING KEMPNER.
In appreciation to Friends of the Forum for supporting the School of Dialogue educational program.