President Barack Obama visits Warsaw Ghetto Memorial
During his official trip to Warsaw on May 27th 2011, President Barack Obama visited the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews and promised Grand Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich that he would return with his two daughters for the official opening of the Museum in April 2013 which will coincide with the 70th commemoration of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
European MPs’ Delegation visit to the Polin Museum construction site
On June 13th 2011, the European Association of the Museum sponsored the visit to Warsaw of a delegation of European MPs who are European Friends of Israel Members. The tour included a visit to the Museum now being built.
The 20 MPs had an opportunity to enter and appreciate the lay out and the design of the building leading to 8 galleries which will represent 1000 years of Jewish history in Poland. For example the XVIIth century Gwozdziec synagogue (presently in Ukraine) is to be shortly installed in the Museum. The building is almost complete (85%) built by craftsmen who use traditional methods.
The European MPs’ Delegation as well as Mr Hervé Mariton of France, were invited to lunch at the residence of the French Ambassador in Poland, Mr François Barry Delongchamps who is an active supporter of the forthcoming Museum project and of our Association’s mission.
21st Festival of Jewish Culture in Krakow
This major Jewish Culture Festival took place in Krakow from June 24th to July 3rd 2011. Initiated in 1988 by Janusz Makuch – Director of the Festival , it takes place every year in Kazimierz – the largest authentic Jewish quarter in Central Europe.
Over 9 days, artists from the US, Israel & Europe offer the Polish public a large number of Klezmer, traditional, popular, religious or contemporary music concerts. The Festival also provides various workshops : singing, hassidic dancing, Hebrew or Yiddish languages, Hebrew calligraphy.
Our Delegation in Krakow including members from France, Belgium & Israël attended the Festival from June 24th to July 3rd. The schedule was very busy including visits to the old Jewish quarter, the Schindler’s Museum (opened in May 2010), several concerts, workshops and exhibitions.
There were also two fascinating conferences:
- One addressed by Eleonore Bergman (former Director of the Jewish History Institute with the largest Jewish Genealogy Center to trace families and ancestors).
- The second conference addressed by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, anthropogist and Director of the forthcoming Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
There were some friendly social events such as the reception at the French consul’s residence in Krakow, at the American consul’s residence and the huge Shabbat dinner in the Kuppa synagogue (one of the 8 synagogues in Kazimierz) where 300 guests gathered from all over the world (including : North & South America).
Musical events & Special Prize for Corinne Evens
Every evening our group attended concerts. The very first concert was held in the beautiful Temple synagogue with the “Di Naye Kapeyle” band with music inspired by the “Shtetl”.
There was also an exceptional and unique flamenco evening, thanks to the sephardic dancer Leilah Broukhim from Spain.
Our Delegation was very privileged to attend an event from the spectacular Esther Hotel suite. The concert starred the famous virtuoso clarinetist David Krakauer and the Yemen Blues Band and its Israeli singer Ravid Kahalani – “the high point” of the evening. Several thousands of polish youth and tourist spectators gathered in Szeroka square to attend the concert.
Corinne Evens was presented with the annual award of the Cultural Festival by Janusz Makuch, the same evening.
Il y eut également des moments de convivialité comme lors de la réception chez le consul de France à Cracovie ou au cours du grand dîner de shabbat partagé avec nos amis américains et regroupant près de trois cents personnes dans la synagogue Kuppa, une des 8 synagogues de Kazimierz.
Alain Finkelkraut’s visit – 27 to 29th June
The Philosopher came to participate in several debates especially in a seminar on recent Polish history of Jewish – Polish relations . During his visit, he had lunch with Corinne Evens at the French Ambassador’s residence in Warsaw.
Restitution of Jewish assets in Lithuania
An AFP news announced that MP’s voted in Vilnius to raise a 37 million Euro Fund for the benefit of the Jewish Community to compensate for Jewish assets seized by the nazis during the second World war and kept by the Soviet Government. Refund settlements will run from 2013 to 2023.
Poland is taking over the leadership at the European Community Council
From July 1st, Poland is leading Europe for the next six months – it took over from Hungary before handing over to Denmark.
The Council of Europe requires a report on the state of Jewish European cemeteries
The cultural, science & educational commission is interested in collecting information on the preservation of cemeteries, especially abandoned cemeteries. The purpose of this investigation is the rehabilitation of those cemeteries. Rabbi Mendel Samama has been appointed to be in charge of this project.
“Polonia” exhibition – Polish Jews in France since 1830
The Paris Polish Institute has organized a seminar on Polish Jews in France – over a week-end: Why did they leave Poland ? How did France receive them – how did French law assimilate them ? How did Polish Jews assimilate with the Polish immigrants who had already settled in France and within the Jewish community? Jean Yves Potel the Holocaust Memorial in Poland correspondent was the chairman of this seminar. The seminar was sponsored by the Yiddish Cultural Institute and took place within the “Polonia” exhibition: “Polish Jews in France since 1830”.
Poland : official ceremony to commemorate Polish Jewish victims murdered by their fellow countrmen during the Holocaust.
On July 10th Polish and foreign officials and religious leaders met in Jedwabue in the North of the country to attend a Memorial ceremony of the 70th commemoration of the Polish Jew massacre by their fellow countrymen during the Second World War. It was the first time that dignitary of the Polish catholic church attended this kind of ceremony commemorating the Holocaust. Amongst the participants were Jewish religious dignitaries , Israeli, German & American Ambassadors and Polish President Komorowski Bronislaw ‘s representative.
Agenda : save the date : November 22nd 2011.
A conference on the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews will take place on November 22nd 2011 at 7 pm in the Holocaust Memorial Auditorium with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett – Director of the exhibition Department in the future Museum and Jean-Yves Potel, the Holocaust Museum correspondent in Poland. Corinne Evens and the Polish Ambassador to France, Mr Tomasz Orlowski will also participate. Annette Becker – Professor of contemporary history at the Paris X University will be the chairman of the Conference
Press cuttings (for more press, click here).
A one page article was edited by Actualite Juive – issue dated June 16th page 22
The article also refers to Wojciech Wilezyk “There is no such thing as an innocent look” with photos of 306 buildings – former Polish synagogues which were destroyed since. This book is on sale (25€) with proceeds for the benefit of the Museum. 30 photographs were been exhibited in Paris in February 2011 by our Association together with the Polish Fundation Atlas Sztuki.
Bernard Lazard note books : publication of an interview with Corinne Evens – issue July 2011-
“I hope and trust that this Museum will be an incentive for the second surviving generation to think twice about it”.