Newsletter September 2017

September 2017

European Association of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN

 La version française se trouve ici

European Association (AEMJP)

AEMJP movie screening: “Zookeeper’s Wife”

Save the date: November 23, 2017, 20:00, Cinéma Balzac, Paris

We are delighted to invite the Friends of the AEMJP to an exclusive screening of a movie The Zookeeper’s Wife   which relates the story of the Żabiński family who managed the Warsaw Zoo during World War II. The movie will not be distributed in French cinemas, thus our screening offers a unique opportunity to see it in Paris.

For over 3 years, the family hid hundreds of Jews who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto, both in their own apartment and in the empty zoo of which they were supposed to take care. The Żabiński family was later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem Institute.

In 2007, Diane Ackerman published her non-fiction book that tells the story of this family The Zookeeper’s Wife. The book became a movie, directed by Niki Caro, written by Angela Workman, and features Jessica Chastain as Antonina Żabińska.

Meeting with the Polish First Lady

Mrs Agata Kornhauser-Duda & Corinne Evens
Mrs Agata Kornhauser-Duda & Corinne Evens

The President of the AEMJP Corinne Evens met the Polish First Lady, Agata Kornhauser-Duda. Ms. Duda showed great interest in both facets of Mrs Evens’ philanthropic work, both in the association supporting the POLIN Museum, and in the Evens Foundation, that supports projects in the fields of European citizenship, peace education, media, arts and sciences, and contributes to the progress and strengthening of Europe based on cultural and social diversity.

Exclusive trip to Poland:
Save the date! POLIN Museum, Klezmer in Krakow & Lublin

June 28-July 1, 2018: Travelling Through History – Join us in our annual trip to Poland.

Almost every year, the AEMJP organizes a trip to Poland, with a double objective: to explore the new Poland, rediscovering and learning to cherish its Jewish heritage, and to help the development of the Polin Museum, which depends on the generous support of its international friends and donors.

We are going to visit together, in exceptional company and conditions, the Core Exhibition with Polin Museum’s representatives. We will subsequently visit Krakow with its Klezmer Festival, and Lublin, the “Jewish Oxford”. We will meet people who are today the living memory of Jewish Poland.

The trip will be also be exceptional from an organizational point of view (a private plane and the finest Polish hotels). For more details see here.

POLIN Museum

New Exhibition: Blood: Uniting & Dividing

Temporary exhibition: 13 October 2017 – 28 January 2018.

The exhibition focuses on the history of blood as a symbol in Judaism and Christianity – how blood unites and divides individuals, communities, and nations throughout history, from rituals described in the Hebrew Bible to 21st-century genetic science.

Blood is the first exhibition at POLIN Museum to showcase original objects of historical importance together with international and Polish contemporary art, introducing both emerging Polish artists (Eliza Proszczuk and Dorota Buczkowska) and such celebrated figures as Piotr Uklański and Bogna Burska.

International conference: How to Teach about Genocide

October 8-9, 2017, at the POLIN Museum in Warsaw

The conference will gather experts in the field of education, Holocaust research and genocide studies. The questions to be raised will concern different educational strategies directed towards young people from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The conference, which reunites scholars from Poland, Israel and the US, will be held mostly in Polish, and simultaneous translation will be provided throughout the event.

Register for the conference here.

March 1968 exhibition (March 2018)

The POLIN Museum program titled Estranged. March ’68 and Its Aftermath addresses the events which took place 22 years after the Holocaust. The European Association of the Museum of The History of Polish Jews POLIN (AEMJP) is the main sponsor of the March 1968 project.

The exhibition and its accompanying program are set against the political context in Poland at the time, yet their core is not the struggle for power, or students’ strikes, but the fate of Polish Jews who were expelled from Poland in the aftermath of March 1968 events. Expelled, for there is no difference really between forced emigration and expulsion.

We keep you informed about the details of this project and our actions here.

Polin Curator elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the most prestigious honor for a scholar in the United States. She joins a distinguished roster of intellectuals, scientists, and artists.

In 2016, Professor Kirshenblatt-Gimblett also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa and was invited to serve a three-year term as a Judge for the European Museum of the Year Award. Congratulations!

Rywka Lipszyc & Łódź ghetto’s diary published

In 2014, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco published an English translation of the diary, which had lain in obscurity for more than seventy years, and is now housed in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Rywka Lipszyc described the brutal conditions endured by Jews in the Łódź ghetto, the second largest ghetto in occupied Poland. What became of Rywka is a mystery.

The book has been translated and published in many countries. Now POLIN Museum will not only publish the diary in the original Polish, but will also prepare educational materials for Polish teachers and students.

Baron & The Gefilteria – Return of Forgotten Foods

Opened by POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in 2016, Menora InfoPoint is a new and exciting meeting place in Warsaw. The culinary workshops, meetings, and debates at Menora InfoPoint reconnect people to Jewish culture through cooking, tasting, and talking about Jewish food.

Since 2016, 25 cooking workshops have served nearly 300 participants. Our new project, “Baron & The Gefilteria – Return of Forgotten Foods,” focuses on the migration of Jewish food from Central and Eastern Europe to North America – and, surprisingly, their way back to Europe.

For Menora InfoPoint’s calendar of events click here.

Polish Politics and Culture

2nd World War reparations claims

After several weeks of protests in Poland against a proposed judicial reform voted by the parliament, criticisms of the reform by international institutions (EU and the US State Department), and eventual partial veto of the reform by the president, the Polish government felt that criticisms of its sovereign decisions coming in particular from Angela Merkel were inappropriate.

In August, the governing Law and Justice party announced their project to ask Germany for reparations after material losses suffered by Poland during the Second World War (human losses, in particular the Shoah, cannot be included as the value of these lives cannot be measured, as Mateusz Morawiecki, vice Prime Minister underlined in an interview). The bill for such damages amounts to $1 trillion.

For more details see here (in Polish).

Ministry of Foreign Affairs changes its motto

Polish Ministry of Foreign affairs changed its motto, following a vote of the lower chamber of Parliament in 2016. Till August 2017, the motto conveyed the following idea: “To serve Poland – to build Europe – to understand the world” (Polsce – służyć, Europę – tworzyć, świat – rozumieć). Since August 2nd, the Ministry is guided by the phrase: “Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland” (Być wiernym Ojczyźnie mej, Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej). The modification of the motto is justified by the current conservative government as a defence of Polish sovereignty against what is interpreted as pressures coming from the European Union (including a series of criticisms against the ongoing reform of Polish judiciary started in 2016).

Jewish Life in Poland

Open letter of Polish Jews to Kaczynski

The leaders of Poland’s Jewish community have written an open letter to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the PiS (Peace and Justice) governing party, urging him to denounce “an intensification of anti-Semitic attitudes in Poland, a brutality of language and behavior, some of which are directed against our community.”

Anna Chipczynska, the head of Warsaw’s Jewish community, and Leslaw Piszewski, co-wrote the letter, sent on August 4, 2017. The letter followed a series of worrying events in Poland: two staff members of an Israeli soccer club Hapoel Petah Tikva were injured after being attacked by masked hooligans, and several Polish politicians close to the current government expressed surprising opinions recalling anti-Semitic stances of extreme right (Magdalena Ogórek and the MP Bogdan Rzońca in particular).

It was the first letter of this kind in Poland in recent decades, noted the Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, adding that “Poland is still a good place to be Jewish, safer than many other places in Europe.” He also said that being Jewish in Poland in no less comfortable today than it was before Law and Justice’s election as the ruling party. (JTA)

A few weeks later, the European Jewish Congress issued a statement expressing “grave concern” at the rise in antisemitism in Poland.

Polish Jews and the Law and Justice Party

The open letter to Jaroslaw Kaczynski co-signed by leading personalities of Polish Jewish community gave rise to controversies not only among the ruling party, but also within the community itself. On August 16, 2017, Jaroslaw Kaczynski (head of the ruling party Law and Justice) met other representatives of the Polish Jewish community, both declaring his friendship toward the Jewish community and implicitly denying the accusations of the August 4th letter. Kaczynski met Artur Hofman, president of the TSKZ cultural group of Polish Jews, and three other Jews.

After the meeting with Kaczynski, 14 Polish groups and individuals — including Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland — co-signed a statement stating that the Chabad rabbis, Shalom Dov Ber Stambler and Eliezer Gurary, along with Daniels and Hofman, do not represent the Jewish community of Poland but at most “themselves or their own organizations.” Sources: Times of Israel and JTA.

Polish villagers hold Jewish wedding without Jews

Nostalgia for Jews in Poland brought yet another surprising phenomenon: a Jewish wedding was held on Saturday August 5, 2017, in the village of Radzanów, 80 miles northeast of Warsaw. Organized by the Radzanovia Association, a cultural group promoting Polish heritage, the event featured a few dozen non-Jewish volunteers, men and women, dressed in traditional Haredi costumes.

A journalist and a local resident were “wed” by a fake rabbi in a show before villagers, whom the event’s organizers sought to teach regarding Jewish traditions. The event’s Producer, Agnieszka Rychcik-Nowakowska, presented the event as commemorating the hundreds of Jews who had accounted for approximately half of her village’s population before the Holocaust. The scenario of the event was written by Teresa Wrońska, an actress from the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, responsible for the music and ceremonies. (Jerusalem Post)


Movie Screening: La grande Route (Wielka droga/Long Road, 1946) by Michał Waszyński

October 24, 2017 (Tuesday), at the Cinéma Reflet Médicis (3 Rue Champollion, 75005 Paris)

Movie presented by Samuel Blumenfeld (Le Monde), author of Waszynski’s biography, L’homme qui voulait être prince (Man who wanted to be a prince, Grasset, 2006). Cf. Facebook event.

Director Michał Waszyński was born in 1904 in Volyn (died in 1965 in Madrid), to a Hasidic family, as Mosze Waks. An extremely prolific craftsman of cinema, until the outbreak of the Second World War – within ten years he had completed forty movies. The outbreak of the Second World War found him in Lviv. In 1941, he joined the army of General Władysław Anders. The Polish-Italian co-production Wielka droga/LongRoad (1946) is probably the most remarkable of his movies: a melodramatic tale of lovers separated by the war, including documentary photographs from the battle of Monte Cassino.

Exhibition: Sławik and Antall. Two heroes of Three Peoples

Sławik et Antall. Deux héros dans le cœur de trois peuples (Sławik and Antall. Two Heroes of Three Peoples.)

Opening: September 14, 19:00–22:00; Exhibition: September 15 – October 28, 2017; Facebook event

Institut hongrois | 92, rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris

The Hungarian Institute in Paris, together with the Polish Institute, presents an exhibition devoted to two Righteous Among The Nations, a Pole and a Hungarian, Henryk Sławik and József Antall, who, thanks to their friendship, were able to save thousands of Jews. The organizers emphasize that the death of Sławik should serve here as a reminder that saving others’ lives remains our duty.


A new and necessary book about Jabotinsky and the Polish Jews was just published by Daniel Kupfert Heller.

“Members of Betar were certainly instilled with the cult of the leader (Jabotinsky) and with the supreme virtue of sacrifice for the greater good. Betar was – or at least became – militaristic in outlook, sometimes violently so. But while at times severely autocratic, Jabotinsky was at heart a democrat” (Times Higher Education).

Daniel Kupfert Heller, Jabotinsky’s Children: Polish Jews and the Rise of Right-Wing Zionism, Princeton University Press, 2017.

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