Newsletter October 2016

Newsletter, October 2016

Shana Tova! Happy New Year 5777!

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Currently at the Museum

“Made in POLIN” Festival
October 19-23, 2016, Warsaw

2nd edition of the Made in Polin Festival will be inspired by the theme of intercultural influence between Jewish and Polish culture—that which is quoted, transformed, and even appropriated. Pastiches, travesties, polemics, forgeries, and remixes – things reinterpreted and absorbed. Words, sounds, images, objects, and ideas in popular and high culture, in daily life and art, both playfully and seriously. Read more…

Some of the events require tickets or registration; please click here for more information: October 22 & October 23.

Menora InfoPunkt & café at 2 Grzybowski Square, Warsaw

Menora, the  former traditional Jewish restaurant, is now an information point about Jewish Warsaw. POLIN Museum is sharing this space with non-governmental organizations and institutions, dealing with the promotion of culture and maintenance of Jewish heritage, but also to those who work with human rights, civic education, and counteracting antisemitism, racism, and any other kind of discrimination.

There is also the bistro, Charlotte Menora, a Jewish café, inspired by traditional Jewish bakeries. Read more…

Artists in Residence

At the end of May, the Polin Museum finished the call for projects in another edition of the Open Museum – Education in Action artist-in-residence program. This time, the starting point for the works will be the most recent: post-1989 history of Polish Jews.

POLIN: European Museum of the Year

Dariusz Stola receiving the EMYA Prize

In April 2016, The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews  received the 39th Annual European Museum of the Year Award. The prize was handed to its director Dariusz Stola at the European Museum Forum’s 2016 Award Ceremony held in San Sebastian, Spain, on April 9, 2016. The Polin Museum was in competition with 48 other museums from 24 countries, covering a diverse range of themes, including the arts, sciences and history. Read more…

Shimon Peres (1923-2016)

Corinne Evens with Shimon Peres, at the Peres Center for Peace, Jaffa, 2016.

The Museum Polin mourns Shimon Peres, who honoured it with his support from its very beginnings and visited in 2008 while the Museum was under construction. Shimon Peres’ daughter, Tsvia Walden, and his son-in-law, have both visited the Museum several times since then. Mr. Peres was the chair of the International Honorary Committee of the Museum. Read more…

Justin Trudeau visits the Polin Museum

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the POLIN Museum on July 19, while participating at the Warsaw Nato Summit. He was accompanied by his eight year old son Xavier. They were guided through the Museum by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, program director of the Core Exhibition for the Museum, and Jagna Kofta, educator.

In  the picture, Mr. Trudeau lays  a wreath at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, before visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp the next day.

An Award for the website

The web-portal Jewish Warsaw (“Żydowska Warszawa”,, a multimedia guide of Warsaw, was declared Gold Winner at the Lovie Awards competition; category: Websites – Schools & Education. For the last six years, The Lovie Awards honour online excellence in Europe. Read more…

Visit of the Friends of the AEMJP in Warsaw and Krakow

Monique Canto-Sperber, Konstanty Gebert, Barbara Kirschenblat-Gimblett

Several Friends of the AEMJP participated in a trip to Poland, where they were able to visit the Polin Museum, Krakow and its Jewish neighbourhood Kazimierz, Schindler’s factory and  the Auschwitz Museum. This extraordinary event allowed to many of them to see a country very different from expected, both charming and welcoming. A debate about European values and perspectives was organized in the Embassy of Belgium, reuniting the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, French Philosopher Monique Canto-Sperber, Polish journalist and Jewish Activist Konstanty Gebert, Writer Ewa Kulik from the Batory Foundation, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Adam Rotfeld, director of the Polin Museum Dariusz Stola, and Marian Turski from the Council of the Museum.

Culture & Society

Jewish Culture Festivals in Poland 

The Krakow Jewish Culture Festival took place at the beginning of the summer (June 25 – July 3, 2016). The final concert of the festival, reuniting several Israeli artists, gathered 10,000 people audience on Szeroka Street. During the event, the ceremony of Havdalah was celebrated in public by the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich. The Friends of the AEMJP were able to admire the concert from the terrace of one of the Jewish restaurants on facing the street.

Jewish Culture Festival “Zachor: Colour and Sound” took place in Białystok in June 2016, for the ninth time. The evening  started with the opening of the exhibition “Pope Francis’ visit in Israel”, a gift from the Israeli Embassy in Poland. During the event, three families from the region of Białystok were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Institute.

Yet another Jewish Culture Festival, Zblizenia, took place in Gdansk from September 8-11.

Living memory 

Makabi Warszawa (Maccabi Warsaw), a Jewish sport club re-launched in 2015, one hundred years after its first incarnation, was nominated in April 2016 to the prize for the best non-governmental initiative in Warsaw, “S3KTOR”.

In the Garden of the Righteous in Muranów neighbourhood in Warsaw, three new trees were planted, to celebrate the memory of Władysław Bartoszewski (recently deceased), Witold Pilecki and Father Jan Zieja.

The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery is being renovated since July 2016, with the support of the Foundation of Cultural Heritage (Fundacja Dziedzictwa Kulturowego). 11 graves are going to be refurbished by the end of the year. Moreover, the Warsaw cemetery is regularly cleaned up by an organization of young volunteers (Ochotniczy Hufiec Porządkowania Cmentarza Żydowskiego); similar action is also currently organized in Łódź.

On July 3, 2016, a March of Life for Reconciliation was organized in Kielce, the city where in 1946 the pogrom took place which a resulted in the killing of 42 Jews and injuring 40 others. Among the 400 participants from all over Poland were the Israeli ambassador Anna Azari and several descendants of survivors of the pogrom.

Museums around the world 

The construction of the Museum of World War II in Gdańsk will soon be completed, amid discussions about its institutional identity. Read more… 

The UK National Holocaust Centre and Museum (Laxton, Nottinghamshire) launched “The Forever Project”, which uses advanced digital technology to project life-size 3D laser images of Holocaust survivors, and software which instantly matches audience questions with up to 1,500 pre-recorded answers. The result will be seamless interactive “conversations” with people no longer alive. Read more…

Economy and Politics in Poland

Israeli ambassador in Warsaw meets a controversial priest

In September 2016, Tadeusz Rydzyk, a Polish ultraconservative priest, founder of controversial Radio Maryja (known for broadcasting many anti-Semitic programmes) met Anna Azari, Israeli ambassador in Poland. Amid controversy, the two discussed ways to solve ‘problems of building Polish-Jewish dialogue’. Read more…

French-Polish conflict over an Airbus deal

The Polish government has cancelled talks with Airbus Helicopters on a multi-billion euro deal to buy 50 Caracal military helicopters. This decision lead François Hollande to postpone his visit in Warsaw (scheduled for October 13), and at the same time, the Polish delegation’s invitation to a Euronaval industry fair in Paris was withdrawn.

Polish Cities in the fDi Intelligence report

The British fDi Intelligence report (annual assessment of crossborder investment trends) “European Cities and Regions of the Future 2016/2017” ranked Warsaw 4th for “business friendliness”, 6th from the point of view of “cost-effectiveness”, 8th from the point of view of “human capital and lifestyle”. Krakow was given the 10th place in the same ranking for general business friendliness among large European cities which are not capital cities. Poznań and Wrocław were also praised for their openness to foreign investments. Read more…

New Minister of Finance

Mateusz Morawiecki (48) was nominated Minister of Finance in September 2016. A recent additional member of the Polish government went through an important transformation during the past few months. A prominent banker turned into Poland’s most powerful government minister. “As a peripheral country that’s dependent on outsiders, we need to protect our markets, build savings and follow the patriotic values represented by Law & Justice,” Morawiecki told students in the city of Poznan in September 2016.

The Minimum Salary on the Rise 

The current minimum salary in Poland is 882.56 Polish Zloty (which corresponds to roughly 200 €), and the Family, Labour and Social Policy Minister, Elżbieta Rafalska, wishes it to rise  progressively, to  1 000 Zloty.

Abortion Law Discussions

During October 2016, The Polish Parliament discussed a new legislative proposal coming from a right-wing organization Ordo Iuris, implying a near-total ban on abortion. The proposal has been defined by the Council of Europe as a “serious backsliding on women’s rights”, and thousands of Poles regularly demonstrate against it. After a  series of demonstration and strikes by women in Poland and internationally, the law was voted out.

Passed in 1993, the current law prohibits all terminations of pregnancy unless it was caused by a rape or incest, it poses a health risk to the mother, or the foetus is severely deformed.

Brexit and Polish Citizens

Close to one million of Polish citizens have chosen to live in the UK since Poland joined the European Union in 2004. With the Brexit vote, Eastern Europeans not only fear for their jobs, but more importantly, for their safety. Several cases of physical and verbal violence were reported against Poles in the UK, and a man was killed on a street of Harlow in Essex by a group of young Britons, allegedly because he spoke Polish.

Andrzej Wajda (1926-2016)

Andrzej Wajda, one of the most important film directors of the 20th century, died on October 9, in Warsaw. Recipient of a honorary Oscar and the Palme d’Or, many of his movies undertook essential issues of Polish-Jewish history (Samson, 1961; The Promised Land, 1975; Korczak, 1990; Holy Week, 1995 among others).

Roman Polanski, who started his acting career in Andrzej Wajda’s Pokolenie (A Generation, 1954), underlined the courage and originality of his older colleague from the Łódź Film School: “Wajda, with the fire of youth and a painter’s eye, set out to break the dreary official mold.” (Roman by Polanski, 1984)


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