Posted Mendelssohn X
You can find this article also here:http://www.jewdyssee.com
Not that it has ever been easy, but recently expressing sympathies for Israel among European leftwing liberals receives the same reaction as if you had said: I like fake boobs. People have a hard time imagining that there could be any other reason for saying something like this besides having been completely brainwashed.
The hostility towards the Jewish State is much bigger than those who harbor the hostility intend. I don´know how it is in the other European countries, where there is no Holocaust trauma, but for many on the extreme German Left and also Center, it makes sense to believe in a legend about the Germans learning more from Auschwitz than the Jews. Many think that „especially the Jews should know how it is like to be persecuted“. It is absolutely correct to view history as a teacher, and the Jews do this quite intensely with their strange glorification of national events, which sometimes leads to humanistic highlights like: „Don´t oppress the stranger for once you have been a stranger in Egypt“. And human beings should learn from the past, but the average Anti-Zionist believes that the war ended for the Jews just like it did for the Germans. There wasl respect to all fallen soldiers of Germany and Israel, but every person should agree that it was easier to return to Munich after losing a war, than to the not even existing Israel after losing everything and sometimes even everyone. And by this I´m not saying that it wasn´t a disaster for everyone involved also in Germany. But the war didn´t end for the Jews in 1945. The Jews as an entity weren´t at war. Some were struggling for a state in Palestine since the 1880s, others were leading comparable comfortable lives in the US, and others were exterminated – in Europe. The faith in humanity in Germany is far reaching, since the experience was that one can start and lose at least one World War and get away with it and get a new chance. If you see all humanity as one society, this experience is something for the richer upper class. A war is lost, but since then so much was won that it really doesn´t matter, Germany´s uncle is a millionaire. And since Israel is seen WITH RESPECT as part of the Western hemisphere – the cultural zone where killing homosexuals is not a National TV event – many think that Israel is basically Germany, but completely stuck in the wrong Testament. Actually, Israel has 99 problems, but a bitch AIN´T one.
But Israel´s defenders make the mistake that they DEFEND instead of EXPLAIN. You cannot defend the situation of the occupation in Hebron. You cannot expect a German leftwing politician to go there and return without saying anything. But you can explain WHAT HAPPENED making things as messed up as they are now.
What is needed to be understood is that Israel´s uncle is not a millionaire, Israel´s uncle was killed by the Nazis. So while even many humanists think that Israel is taking a bigger share than it deserves because of its rich American lobby aka the Elders of Zion, it forgets that the essential problem of Israel is not being an egocentric child, but being an orphan. Rightwing Orthodox Judaism is an egocentric child, but not Israel. Israel is the „Chosen People“ not because God chose them over others, but because they chose to live. The underdog who is trying to make it without the rich parents in the back has always been a socialist ideal. And early Zionists such as Theodor Herzl and others had evolved from the background of the enlightenment period in German (speaking)-Jewish history, and their vision of the Jewish State was always based on a respect for all humanity based on the teachings of the Hebrew Prophets. In „Altneuland“ Herzl introduced two fascinating characters, one is David Littwak, a strong Zionist who builds up a new society based on humanistic ideals rooted in biblical ethics, and Rabbi Geyer, a racist aiming at a segregated society. Herzl´s sympathies were with David Littwak. Nowadays both visions have their own state, David Littwak´s Israel is within the 1967 borders and Rabbi Geyer´s Israel in the occupied territories. When British universities make a boycott against Israeli academics, they are boycotting David Littwak, not Rabbi Geyer. In „Al Kusari“, one of the most famous Jewish religious texts by Yehuda Halevi, the pagan Khazar king, had a discussion with a Rabbi and told him that the only reason the Jews argue morally is because they are always the minority, but if they would be the majority one day in some state, it will show whether the ideals are reality-proof. And were they proof? Yes and No! Not as many Israelis seem to think of course, since Rabbi Geyer is stronger than ever when judging by racist Kahanist views among Israeli youngsters and the fact that many „self-hating secular rightwingers“ claim that only the National Religious Zionists are the last ones who still know what they are fighting for. The occupation is THE danger to Zionism, and the fact that many Israelis who felt unloved by Europe turned towards American Christian Evangelicals who aim at building an intolerant theocracy is rather sad, if not a tragedy. But on the other hand Israel has managed to build up a society in the Middle East with surprisingly high standards when judged by the historical situation. If you want to know how conflicts are usually solved in this region then look at Assad in Syria. This is authentic. But Israel isn´t the fake boob, it´s a very natural boob in a good shape and Assad is just a sad-Ass. The European sees only the soldier hitting the peace activist, and develops an antipathy towards the same Israeli state that immediately suspended the soldier. As bad and unsympathetic that soldier was – this was NOT Abu Ghraib. This was not Guantamo. And the people are right, this would never happen in Syria. Because no peace activist would get that far there.
So, once you explained all of this, it usually doesn´t satisfy a person who dedicated himself to the idea of Israel being the original problem. And as an argument comes the classic of all classics: Just because some people are worse, doesn´t make you good. But then, dear friends of friendly humanism, please also add: If no one is absolutely good, this does not make Israel worse, and it means the biggest caution should aim at one´s own judgements of others. And the clearest air of Nepal is breathable, once you notice that you can solve the Middle East conflict in your own street, in your own family in your own soul. Everyone has his Zionism and everyone has his borders of 1967 in which he should exist authentically.
As the poetry of the German poet Hermann Hesse goes: „Jüngling, halte stolz in deiner Brust, Minneleid und Minnelust, doch sollst du niemals glauben zu haben, mehr Gefühl als andere Knaben.“ It translates to something like: Dude, be proud of your emotions and your fire, but please don´t fucking think that you feel deeper than the others.
There is a great Jewish legend about a disciple asking his Rabbi in synagogue what the highest of the highest truth is. As a reaction the Rabbi runs out. After a few hours the Rabbi comes back and the disciple asks him where he´d been. The Rabbi replies: I was helping a poor widow and her kids doing some housework. You can´t be more leftwing than that. I hope that this Rabbi will replace Rabbi Geyer. And I hope that the Liberal Left in Germany and Europe will not turn their backs on the country of David Littwak which proves that blood, sweat and tears can be stronger than oil.
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April 29, 2012 | 2:12 pm
Posted Linda Katz / NY, NY
I am a typical naive American. Certainly K.K. communicated this through rolling eyes while showing me around Jewish Krakow. Traveling through Eastern Europe with the mission of talking with Jewish communities, I was often amazed and awed by what I heard - even by what I knew. Yes, I am naive, and, optimistic.
Aware, yet surprised. I was awed by stories of ‘hidden’ and ‘discovered’ Jews reclaiming Judaism. It certainly made sense to hide a Jewish identity that brought death and alienation during the Holocaust, Communism, and pretty much all the years before and after. To me, an American with the freedom to choose to ‘be Jewish’, making the choice to proudly say yes takes courage, conviction and a lot of faith.
Faith I never had to test. Not really.
From 1880 - 1920, Eastern European Jews flocked to America, the land of religious freedom and economic opportunity. Sure, America like the rest of the world has anti-Semitism, I grew up with it, but Jews are accepted and acknowledged in much of the U.S.
However, human nature is filled with more similarities than differences across time and geography. Our nature as humans is filled with both kindness and strength as well as fear, greed, and insecurity. Naively, I write and talk about this fact, yet, find it easy to forget in the comfort of my kitchen.
Sharing a Passover meal with a close out-of-town friend, P., found us talking about Jewish rituals. She was curious, afterall, she is Jewish!
Our friendship has spanned over fifteen years, thousands of miles, and the sharing of Jewish rituals including Tashlich. She says: she told me she was Jewish. Did she? How did I not hear? Why not? Or did I hear her ambiguity about being Jewish? The same ambiguity I was hearing over the Seder plate?
Her parents moved to non-Jewish Palm Beach in 1947, finding it convenient and easy to leave their Judaism in Ohio. P. found it equally easy to continue this new family tradition of being NOT Jewish. P. easily lived her life without curiosity or interest of her known Jewish identity. When P.‘s daughter expressed interest in Taglit, P. discouraged her from going to Israel, and, from connecting with her Jewish roots.Why?
P. expressed no interest in talking further about this. Yet, how can I NOT be curious about her lack of curiosity and interest. Disinterest she has passed to her daughters. In Eastern Europe Jews have shaken off ghosts of the Holocaust and Communism, while here, in the safety of a democracy - and choice - P. has made a decision, a choice, to lock the door and throw away the key to this vital aspect of her identity. In this, she is not alone.
P. reminded me there are many NON-Jewish Jews here in America. Earlier in the day she proudly shared the spirituality of Easter as if hiding from the Passover story. Naively I wonder why…
I have asked these questions many times, and now I ask you: (Please share your thoughts!)
What does it mean to be Jewish?
How do you define or tell others about your Jewish identity?
What draws you to Judaism? To this religion that you may or may not practice in a religious way?
How - does Judaism help you to be a better person? Why does it help you be better? Have you become a different person if you are now learning about your Jewish identity?
April 29, 2012 | 2:08 pm
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek/ Poland
“When you dance, you can enjoy the luxury of being you.”
Paulo Coelho – The Witch of Portobello
Friday, 1 o’clock p.m., the fifth platform crowded as always. The Krakow – Warsaw train will arrive any minute. In my bag – several sets of sports clothes, comfortable shoes and a good book that, at least for me, will make the three-hour trip to the Capital a bit shorter. The noise of the incoming train was drowned out by a clear sound in my mp3 player. It was the beautiful Jewish song Hava nagila (Let us rejoice). Legs were eager to dance, but in a few hours it would have been clear that I had a rather misty idea of what this dance was really about. The destination of my journey was one of the Training Centres near Warsaw – Twins 2. It was the third time when workshops of Israel dance – Inbal – were organised there.
In three hours I moved from sunny Krakow to rainy Warsaw, the weather, however, did not spoil my positive attitude. After I had left the railway station, I instantly spotted the monumental and probably the most recognisable building in all of Poland: The Palace of Culture and Science. I moved quickly in that direction and mingled with the crowd of dozens of tourists with their luggage. I had a strange feeling that one of the most interesting weekends this year was about to start. And as it turned out later, I was totally right. I easily got to the right place as all participants were transported quickly by a coach that waited for us near the railway station. At 6 p.m. we checked in and I received a coloured name plate, the schedule and the key booklet. I took all my stuff to a cosy room but I was not in the mood to unpack them. I was extremely hungry when I spotted on the schedule that in 15 minutes there was going to be the festive inauguration of Inbal – the Sabbath Dinner! That was what I needed – magnificent dishes served with delicious kosher wine. Kabbalat Sabbath, the traditional challah with a pinch of salt, a dozen of round tables with people of different ages, all smiling and happy, waiting with excitement for the first common Israeli dances. To my surprise, the majority of them seemed as if they had known each other very well. It is not hard though to guess why – they dance together in groups such as Kahol in Krakow or Sunit in Warsaw, and go abroad to participate in workshops in Hungary or France. They master their skills under the guidance of the best instructors. I instantly wondered how I was going to keep up with people for whom the Israeli dance is a life passion. All my fears vanished after the first dance. And that was thanks to great instructors – Lena and Oren who step by step taught every part of the choreography. After a quick 15-minute training I was ready for the first dance, and the next one, and I even didn’t notice when the midnight struck. After I got back to my room the only thing I wished for was to reach the bed and fill the liquids. I came back to life after a dynamic wake-up from my room mate who turned on MTV at full volume.
Having eaten a light breakfast, I made my way to the enormous hotel terrace where, until the coffee break, I practiced what I had learned the day before. I enrolled in the beginners’ group led by Lena – an immensely dynamic and beautiful young woman with a professional attitude towards each participant. With music, the time flies very quickly. After the coffee break there was another surprise waiting for me – art workshops Star of David (instructor – M. Zybert). I cannot recall when for the last time I cut out, glued or painted anything. It was maybe for the Valentine’s Day in the primary school. I did not give up, however, and I made an original green and blue star of David with a Shalom inscription on it. As you can see in the pictures, the designs were simply outstanding. Probably every one of us felt like an independent artist whose work, despite not appreciated in their lifetime, would be successful and famous in the future. Currently, my star of David occupies the central place of a huge information table in my flat and is waiting for better times to come.
“Music soothes manners”. This is what my lovely grandma says as she sings all songs she knows while cooking dinner, tidying or gardening. And she is surely right. Sometimes she only lacks some accompaniment – a guitar, a piano or a drum. Or maybe the last item does not belong to this puzzle… at least this is what I thought until I tried playing this truly difficult instrument on my own. I liked the power of the African rhythms so much that not for love or money I wanted to give back my small drum to the instructor Robert Kawka. The perspective of the upcoming workshop during which I would be able to show off my “outstanding” vocal helped me to make the painful decision, which, as it turned out later, I didn’t regret. The workshop of the Sephardic songs, because this is what I am talking about, won my usually hard as stone heart and Mrs Anna Jagielska-Riveiro praised my voice and commitment. After a delicious dinner, which I literally wolfed down, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon dancing to the utmost. My plans turned real thanks to Magdalena Gostyńska – a young and talented girl passionate of Reggateon. Reggateon is [sic!] The hall, which to this moment resounded with the Israeli music, was taken over by dynamic rhythms of Sean Paul. For three hours Magda had no mercy for us. With full confidence I can tell that I burned not only the dinner I ate, but also a part of my fat reserves. In the evening, there was a surprise waiting for us. A coach drove at the hotel and took us to the 3rd New Jewish Music Festival, to a cosy cinema Nova Praha. The hall was full to its very brims. The first performer was the band Nord Cold Quarter that finds inspiration in original archive recordings of Balkan Sephardic Jews from the beginning of 20th c. Several words on the idea of the whole festival, which is aimed at searching in the Jewish music for the “historical” stylisations as well as new radical aesthetics. As the authors say, it is a meeting with reality and sensibility of the artists for whom tradition is the starting point, a kind of inspiration. Whereas the music of the contemporary times creates the context. The performance of the first group really calmed me down, which I can’t say about the crazy guys from the USA, namely The Sway Machinery. As one of the American critics said, their music takes no prisoners. And he was 100% right. When I was listening to a dozen of songs within an hour, I felt as if I were in two places at the same time: in a synagogue and in a rock concert. Two worlds, two realities mixed perfectly. An intriguing and not evident sound. The music of The Sway Machinery is the essence of the notion of “the new Jewish music”. It comes out from the bottom of the soul of the group founder – the charismatic vocalist Jeremiah Lockwood. I highly recommend the band. The next occasion to listen to their music will come in July during the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow.
Participation in two concerts, as it turned out, wasn’t the last event of the Saturday evening. After we got back to the hotel, we started trades and common dances, which for some of us finished only at dawn. Luckily, the breakfast was scheduled for a later hour which allowed us to recover after such an intensive day. Thanks to another workshop, this time ceramics, I can boldly say that I found a new hobby. Modelling clay jewellery, talismans and animals turned out to be an extremely pleasurable activity. Thanks to Mrs Dorota Gobiecka-Grosz and her daughter Paulina we learned the art of modelling and adorning beautiful objects. The most popular design among the handmade items was the person of the hunched Jew holding a coin in his hand – a stereotypical symbol of prosperity and wealth. After the workshops one could feel the tense atmosphere. Over 60 participants packed their things and slowly started to think about the departure. Inbal was coming to an end and I was tormented both with joy and sadness. I met fantastic people and acquired many new skills. I am sure that next year I will appear at this fascinating event with the group of my new friends – the true lovers of Israeli dance.
The project was co-financed from the funds of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The main organiser and coordinator of the undertaking was Monika Elliott.
April 29, 2012 | 2:04 pm
Posted Ian Shulman / Austria
This quote attributed to the Hollywood talent agent, ‘the last mogul’ Lew Wasserman seemed to be the key to the newest exhibition of the Vienna Jewish Museum - ‘Bigger Than Life. 100 Years of Hollywood: A Jewish Experience’. Just as the quote implies to look conventional, but think unconventionally, the exhibition doesn’t just tells the stories of legendary Hollywood Jewish producers, directors and actors.It also tries to analyze the role of Jewishness in Hollywood masterpieces—the hidden and vivid motives and the random and logical coincidences.
Most of the Jewish Hollywood founders were born ‘East of Vienna’, says the exhibition. Escaping the turbulent and hostile Eastern Europe, Jewish craftsmen and tradesmen were dreaming of their own promised land. The young and liberal civilization of America promised a relatively non anti-Semitic environment, equal opportunities, and milk and honey flowing down the Hudson river. While the emigrant life appeared to be tough and routine, the most adventurous headed towards the West Coast. There, in sunny California, they were going to build and film their promised land.
The exhibition continues to relate the success of Hollywood with the Eastern European Jewish heritage. The villainous creatures of ‘Dracula’ and ‘The Wolf Man’ both have Romanian roots, the femme fatale of ‘Cat People’ is Serbian, and the singing movie star of the 1920s, ‘The Jazz Singer’, is the son of a synagogue cantor. The museum seems to amass even more surprising coincidences. Thus, 1917 ‘Cleopatra’ Theda Bara had used a fictional biography to hide her Jewish roots, and most Nazi leaders from the 1940s movies were played by Jews who fled from Germany. In contrast, some American organizations of the 1930s were calling for a boycott of ‘Jewish Communistic Soddom and Gomorrah’, using obviously Nazi-inspired images. With other amazing facts, movie excerpts, personal letters, ‘Easy Rider’s motorbike and ‘Inglourious Bastard’s baseball bat, the exhibition tells a beautiful story of Jewish Hollywood from jazz singing Al Jolson to intellectual Woody Allen and a brutal Nazi hunter played by Eli Roth.
It’s amusing how another section of the museum draws a line again between the U.S., the Jews and Eastern Europe. With a capturing name, ‘Warhol’s Jews,’ the exhibition presents the portrait series of XX century’s most outstanding Jewish personalities created by Andy Warhol. The artist, whose parents were Russians from Eastern Slovakia, has compiled a list of the great Jews of our time. The ten chosen ones were Golda Meir, Sigmund Freud, George Gershwin, Sarah Bernhardt, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Louis Brandeis, Gertrude Stein, the Marx brothers and Franz Kafka. Warhol himself wasn’t really interested in the series, but assumed it was going to have a market success. It indeed has: both exhibitions have finally turned the Vienna Jewish Museum in to a crowded modern place, where catchy contemporary topics lead to exciting texts and bright pictures and where everyone has a reason to come - be it a national pride, proof of the conspiracy theory or a pure love of art.
April 29, 2012 | 2:00 pm
Posted Monika Opalińska Poland
On the 23rd of April in the Historical Museum of Krakow Oskar Schindlers Emalia Factory, located at Lipowa 4 street, there was a festive opening of the exhibition titled “Is war men’s Business”. The title refers to the strongly established, well known stereotype and popular saying associated with Winston Churchill. However, the inclusion of twelve portraits featuring women proved that they too were active in war.
Often we discuss the merits of men when looking at heroic fights, soldier attitudes, and the underground conspiracy and partisans. Yet, Mrs Beata Łabno, the author of the exhibition, decided to focus on womens’ roles in war—their contribution to both fighting and heroic deeds that many men would have never made. At the time women had to be brave and were often forced to make very difficult decisions that demanded strong character, total determination and strong dedication. War took place not only on the battlefield but also invaded everyday life, threatening day to day activities and the security of one’s children.
Females were deprived of protection and had to face the unsafe environment , while at the same time becoming strong support for their husbands, fathers and sons. They had to move beyond their gentleness and weakness in order to become strong individuals that would play a big role in history. Women did not stay idle and passive. They were strongly involved in charity—they hid and protected Jews and helped identify prisoners. Many of them actively took part in the war as women soldiers or conspirators, risking their lives and paying the highest price for their courage and dedication.
Memoires and various certificates and documents donated by the families of these twelve featured women are very valuable proofs. People who walked through the exhibit, even those who were not personally connected to the time period or events, were strongly effected by numerous pictures, souvenirs and exhibits.The atmosphere almost recreated the history. Many of the exhibits were borrowed from the Warsaw Royal Castle as well as from the Jewish Historical Institute and many other historical institutions and organizations.
Portraits of those chosen twelve women who had been so unique in their individual way of fighting the occupant acts as a testimony to the great influence they had over the fate of many. Women should not have been seen only as victims of war, but also as main participants of many conspiratorial actions. Without them and their generosity and strength many plans and projects would have not been realized. It was really worth going through those women’s life history because they deserve to be regarded as real heroins.
Being there at that exhibition, seeing their faces on the pictures and reading their biography made me think how strong minded they were and how difficult their life was, and I admit I strongly admired those women who never gave up on fighting even in the darkest times.
You can see photos here: http://jewrnalism.org/home/news/item/37-report-from-the-exhibition-%E2%80%9Cis-war-men%E2%80%99s-business%E2%80%9D
April 25, 2012 | 2:45 am
Posted by Itamar Treves-Tchelet
On this day, we commemorate the 22,993 fallen Israeli soldiers, and thousands of Israeli Terror victims, who lost their lives for the sake of the State of Israel.
I took upon myself to free-translate a poem, written by Giora Fischer, who lost his son Merom (Moses) during a military operation in Jenin in 2002.
The Hebrew version:
תְּפִילָה/ גיורא פישר
וְאֶהְיֶה כְּבָר זָקֵן
:אִם אָז אֶשְׁאַל
?לָמָּה הוּא לאֺ בָּא לְבַקֵּר
אֲבָל, הוּא נָפַל
.לִפְנֵי הֲמוֹן זְמַן
הוּא הָיָה פֺּה אֶתְמוֹל
.וְאָמַר שֶׁיָּבוֹא גַּם מָחָר
The English version (free translation):
I am already old,
If then I asked:
Why didn’t he come to visit?
But, he has fallen
He was here yesterday,
and said he would come tomorrow again
April 20, 2012 | 1:58 pm
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek / Poland
A common initiative promoting the works of the Old Doctor has begun the whole Poland over. Enough to think that not that long ago, while visiting Cracow bookshops and asking about his works, I met only with surprised look and an answer: “I am sorry, we don’t have it. There is only King Matt.” A book I remember perfectly from my childhood which is still lying on one of the shelves of my family library, waiting for the younger generations to come. So where are the other writings of Korczak: Kaytek the Wizard, Playful Pedagogy, How to Love a Child, The Rules of Life, Alone with God, Ghetto Diary? It turned out that the Old Doctor, although present, is no longer needed and started to disappear. All those for whom he was a role model, who remembered and followed him are already dead. Nowadays, young people see in him a victim of war and anti‑Semitism. Korczak wrote “Death is not difficult – more difficult is the life.” The idea of his life became the background suppressed by his martyr’s death. Korczak was a man who perceived commitment in social service to be the most important goal in his life. What do we mean today under renunciation, sacrifice, and disinterest? The majority would say: outdated ideals, old fashioned, no one needs them today. People like him, who feel responsible for the future, who believe in effectiveness of positive activity, fall into oblivion. Who was Janusz Korczak? How much, my dear reader, are you able to tell about him?
Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit) was born in Warsaw, on 22 July 1878, in a Jewish family, however, totally knit together with the Polish culture and language. A family of vivid writing, educational and social interests. His father, Józef Goldszmit, was a well known and acknowledged lawyer in Warsaw, fighting for the development of secular education for the Jewish children. Korczak’s grandfather, Dr Cwi Hirsz Goldszmit, was a surgeon in the Jewish Hospital in Hrubieszów. In their social and educational activity, Henryk’s family was a strong supporter of Haskalah – the Jewish Enlightenment that professed ties with the Polish culture and raising in the spirit of progress. Korczak felt like he was to pursue the aspirations of his ancestors. All his childhood, youth and work connected him with Warsaw; “Warsaw is mine and I am hers.” His childhood was full of peace, love and abundance. It was disturbed with the death of his father, who died after a long-standing mental illness (1896). The young Henryk, a 5th grade pupil in a philology class of a Praga gymnasium, became responsible for providing for the family. He gave private lessons, collaborated with the illustrated humoristic and satirical Kolce [Thorns] weekly. He wrote numerous satirical pieces and columns. His literary début – the Gordian Knot – he devoted to the problem of upbringing in a family. He said: “I am a man immensely interested in social issues.” In 1898, he began medical studies at the Warsaw University and almost at the same time he took part in the Ignacy Paderewski literary contest, where for the first time he appeared under the pseudonym Janusz Korczak. And that was the name which was to make him famous in Poland and bring him international respect.
Meanwhile, he became a student of the secret Flying University and got engaged in the activities of the Warsaw Charitable Society. He finished his medical studies in 1905 and supplemented his knowledge in the clinics of Berlin, Paris and London. In all these places, he was interested in institutions of care and education. Being a young doctor, he started collaboration with the Summer Camp Society and participated in the summer camps as an instructor. During the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) he worked as a doctor in a hospital train. Since 1914, he served as a junior ward-head in a divisional field hospital and during the civil war he took care of two Ukrainian orphanages near Kiev. In 1919, being already an officer of the Polish army, he worked in an epidemic hospital in Łódź. And although he confessed in his diary, at the dusk of his life, that he betrayed medicine, in fact he remained a doctor until the end. He cured his children from the orphanage, weighed and measured them, examined their biophysical development. He followed up the medical knowledge with the experience of a pedagogue and the sensibility of a psychologist. In 1912, he took charge of a newly built Orphanage, called Dom Sierot [Orphans’ House], for Jewish children at 92 Krochmalna street. Stefania Wilczyńska became the head master of the house. For both of them, it determined a common fate – till the end of life. The war got Korczak away from the children of the Orphanage. After his return, in 1919, he set up in Pruszków, near Warsaw, an orphanage for Polish worker’s children called Nasz Dom [Our House] becoming thus the soul of two care entities. There he created a modern and unique educational system. What this care entity looked like in the eyes of the children? “If it wasn’t this house, I wouldn’t know that there are, in this world, honest people who do not steal. I wouldn’t know that one can tell the truth. I wouldn’t know that there are justice rights in the world.”
What did Korczak’s private life look like? Did he set up a family? Later, in 1937, in a letter to his friend Mieczysław Zybert he wrote: “(...) I decided not to set up my own house. It was in a park near London (...) and soon did I feel as if I had killed myself. With power and force I led my life that only seemingly was unordered, lonely and alien. I chose the idea to serve children and their affairs to be my son.” It was not philanthropy then, neither mercy that made him devote his life to children. It was a fully conscious decision of broadly defined social service. Until the very end.
In the interwar period, Korczak continued his rich journalistic activity. New volumes of his pedagogical treaties and essays for adults and children, as well as fantastic and realistic novels for children appeared systematically. In 1937, the Polish Academy of Literature awarded him with the Golden Laurel for his literary achievements. Between 1926 and 1930, he ran a unique magazine for children entitled Mały Przegląd [The Little Review]. Janusz Korczak won also great authority as a lecturer at the National Institute for Special Pedagogy, at the Free Polish University, at the National Teacher’s Training Institute, at the Nursery School Teacher Seminary, and as an author of lectures in numerous social associations and organisations, as well as during paediatrician and special school teacher’s symposiums. He was also an expert for children with the district court. Korczak departed for the Holy Land twice (1934 and 1936), where he visited his friends. On the wave of the growing anti-Semitism and fascist atmosphere, he thought intensively on emigration to Palestine. The belief that one can be both a Jew and a Pole accompanied him for the whole life. He decided to stay in Warsaw, which was influenced by his love of the mother country and the sense of responsibility. As the Old Doctor, between 1935 and 1936, he hosted in the Polish Radio a programme for children called Gadaninki [Small talks], which was heartily listened also by the parents.
In September, when the war broke out, Korczak put on his Polish army officer’s uniform as he believed we would be called up. Unfortunately, his age did not allow it. He volunteered for the Polish Radio Information Service and he was one of the best collaborators of the Emergency Service. Not paying attention to the exploding shells and the whistling bullets, he appeared several times a day and brought information about all those who needed help and all those who could have provided it. Once the Hitler’s occupation began, the existence of the orphanage became endangered. At that time, there were 100 children. Korczak raised money and gifts among people of good will, institutions and private persons. He used to write proclamations “To Jews”, “To Citizens Christians”. Korczak did not subordinate to the order of wearing the Star of David on the arm. He wore the uniform of the Polish officer which resulted in repressions, including imprisonment. In October 1940, the Dom Sierot orphanage, which numbered 150 children, was moved to the area of the ghetto, first to Chłodna street and then to Śliska. Korczak tried very hard not to let the children feel a dramatic change of conditions. There was still functioning the old house order, the children’s council and the arbitration by fellow charges. They still published the House Newspaper, the circle for useful entertainment was still working, as well as the system of voluntary cleaning duties. Korczak organised in the House a primary school and cycles of interesting lectures. Holidays were celebrated festively. Music, poetry, and theatre were sources of joy and consolation – an escape from the nightmare of the ghetto. Despite the prohibition introduced by the occupant, “at Korczak’s” there were played pieces of Polish composers such as Chopin, and the poetry of Konopnicka and Broniewski was declaimed. The guests watched, clearly moved, Rabindranaht Tagore’s The Post Office performed by the children on 18 July 1942. It was a play prohibited by the Nazi censorship, chosen by Korczak somehow as a presentiment of the upcoming death, to which he wanted to prepare the children mentally. Korczak’s Dom Sierot beamed with the Polish culture and introduced its values to the ghetto, which was defending desperately the universal values.
The basic problem for Korczak was not only the care for children’s mental health, but also the constant struggle with hunger and illnesses. The conditions at Śliska street were terrible. Due to the still increasing mortality in the ghetto, there were still more children coming to the already overcrowded rooms. For over 200 children, there was only one small kitchen, one toilet, halls divided with screens and wardrobes into a canteen, a sewing room, a parlour and a “dolls corner” during the day, and a bedroom during the night. Korczak slept in a small isolation ward with several ill children.
“The number of children, despite lack of space, increases to 250 (...) nutrition worse and worse. Despite efforts, one can get neither fat nor potatoes. Instead of meat – horse blood from the slaughterhouse, sometimes horse meat. Compared to the homeless shelters, however, and the poverty of the families, Dom Sierot is an oasis of welfare and cleanliness.”
Moved to the deep with the fate of the children who die lonely on the street of famine, cold and diseases, of those who die shot by the Germans while sneaking behind the wall in search of bread, of those abandoned by their parents unable to bury them, Korczak turned to the director of the health faculty: “There have to be organised dying-houses for children. If we are not able to bring them to life, let us at least provide them with a humane and decent death.” The Old Doctor worked actively for the benefit of all social and cultural actions. He collaborated with the underground movement. His body was, however, on the verge of physical exhaustion – he had ill heart, pleural effusion, unoperated hernia, ill red eyes, bladder disease, coughs. Additionally – a big ulcer on the neck. He did not want to go to the hospital – he did not want to leave the children. On 7 February 1942, he took an additional job as a pedagogue in the care entity at Dzielna 39 with 700 children. At nights, from May to August 1942, he wrote his Ghetto Diary. He did it irregularly as he was running out of ink, lacked paper, the carbide lamp was going out or the fatigue after the difficult experience of the day was so big…
When the last hours of his life were to come, he wrote in his Diary: “I do not wish bad to anyone. I cannot. I do not know how to do this.” This last entry is dated on 4 August 1942. The liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto began on 22 July 1942, and on 6 August it covered all dormitories and orphanages. Now, only the terrified eye-witnesses testify how it happened. One of them, Nachum Remba, reports: “Szmerling, the Jewish commander of the Umschlagplatz, called by the Germans the
, ordered to bring out the dormitories. On the head of the march, there was Korczak. No! That image I will never forget. It was not a march to the carriage, it was an organised silent protest against banditry! Contrary to the cramped mob that went like kettle to slaughter, he began a march never seen earlier. All children were grouped in fours, Korczak on the head with his eyes turned to the sky. He held two children by the hand and led the march. (…) These were the first Jewish Madre which went to Heath with dignity, throwing to the barbarians looks full of contempt. (…) Even the order service stood at attention and saluted.” This view will not be forgotten, this march still lasts… it becomes a legend.
Today, in the whole country we recall again those events and the person of Janusz Korczak – a man of great intellectual and moral respect. Mr Marek Michalak – the Ombudsman for Children – in his speech of 2 January 2012 paid attention to the great social and educational role of Korczak, from whom the contemporary Polish society can learn a lot. He advises us how to raise children more wisely, how to develop better relations with them, and, in a long run, build together the future of the family and the whole society.
According to Korczak, the balance of somebody’s life matters for the world only if this life was of social value and left something for the people afterwards. Otherwise, what would we need a biography for? Korczak asked and still asks us: “...have you lived? How much have you worked? How many loaves of bread have you baked for other people? How many trees have you sowed or planted? (...) Have you given out, shared, presented your life? How much have you defended what you were fighting for?”
1.Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984.
2.Joanna Olczak-Ronikier, Janusz Korczak: An Attempt at a Biography, Warsaw 2011.
3.Hanna Mortkowicz-Olszakowa, Janusz Korczak, Warsaw 1978.
4.Aleksander Lewin, Janusz Korczak, pisma wybrane [selected works], Warsaw 1984.
5.Janusz Korczak, życie i dzieło [life and work], Handouts from the International Symposium, Warsaw, 12-15 October 1978.
First-year MA History student at the Pedagogical University, Third-year BA Politic Studies student, Head of the History, and Jewish Culture sections of the Historians’ Student Scientific Circle at the Joachim
 See: http://2012korczak.pl/node/86/ (access 3 March 2012)
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 45.
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 46.
 The true pseudonym of Henryk Goldszmit was in fact Janasz Korczak and was derived from Ignacy Kraszewski’s novel, which tells the story of the feeling of a young, poor, orphaned nobleman Janasz to the daughter of his benefactor - a rich lord. During the announcement of the results, the first part was twisted into Janusz, and so it remained.
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 48.
 Ibid., p. 48.
 Hanna Mortkowicz-Olszakowa, Janusz Korczak, Krakow 1949, p. 92.
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 50.
 More on art on http://www.e-teatr.pl/pl/artykuly/61593.html, (access on 4 March 2012)
 Stella Eliasberg. Czas zagłady [Time of extermination]. [in:] Wspomnienia o Januszu Korczaku [Memories of Janusz Korczak], Warsaw 1981, p. 301.
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 52.
 Ibid., p. 53.
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 55.
 See: http://2012korczak.pl/node/86/ (access on 3 March 2012)
 Janusz Korczak, Ghetto Diary, Poznań 1984, p. 44.
April 20, 2012 | 1:50 pm
Posted Monika Opalińska
While getting to know more and more about Jerzy Einhorn one starts to understand how powerful influence on forming young man’s mind had some appalling circumstances in the past. All that he had experienced while living in the ghetto in occupied Częstochowa and later when he lived in the internment camp “shaped” his psyche and left indelible mark on his mind and soul. Perhaps all the horrifying pictures of the death of the innocent and his helplessness lead him to become one of the most famous oncologist that was willing to carry disinterested help to the most needy.
Jerzy Einhorn, known as a professor of radiotherapy and the director of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, was born on the 26th of July 1925 in Częstochowa. Since the early years of his childhood he was deeply devoted to his orthodox Jewish Yiddish – speaking family. His parents always surrounded him with solicitous care and protection and tried to impress on him all the necessary moral rules that he should follow in the future in his mature life. Young Josele was strongly fascinated with his father Pinkus, who was always giving him the feeling of safety and support. He was his authority, the model to epitomize that he strongly admired for his strength, determination and the ability of dealing with the difficult life situations. Sara instead, was always kind and open to his confessions, a perfect mother that always put her children’s wellness ahead of her own. 
When back in primary school Josele realized that in Poland he would never be treated as a Pole but Jude – the representative of the worse nation that does not deserve the equal treatment. He always felt isolated and marked by his ancestry and religion. Both teachers and school children always kept him distance. He never played with his schoolmates, spending his breaks alone in the corner. Finally he moved to the Jewish school where ultimately started to live a normal life where he was totally accepted by the others. 
Unfortunately soon he was forced to live isolated from a normal world that he knew. In 1939 the war began which brought years of suffering and humiliation. In 1940 the “Large Ghetto” emerged where Jewish people were gradually displaced. Life of Einhorns family started to be very difficult, although Pinkus Einhorn could still run his sewing business.
Migration through the Ghetto’s gate was strictly forbidden, however many people risked their lives to cross the border and seek freedom. So called “selections” started to take place as well as massive transfers of Jews to the compulsory work camps. People were treated worse than animals, stuffed in cattle carriages and taken for early death. German soldiers shot Jews even if it was only for amusement and many times crushing little children’s heads on hard bricked walls indifferent to their mothers’ cries and pain.
Young Jerzy was a witness to all of those gruesome happenings. He would never be able to forget about all of those people that were killed with cold blood by Germans. Later, in his written memoir, he said that the changes that had been made to his mind and soul during the war were totally irreversible. Living in those hard times he tried to keep at least small elements of a normal existence. All of the free time he had he tried to spend on learning from books that he had brought to the camp. He started to appreciate food, clothes and all the other goods that before the war he were available to him without any effort. Even though he saw so many nightmarish incidents he still believed that one day all this would be over. He never lost his hope which helped him survive that time. 
Einhorn’s family managed to outlast the time of Operation Reinhard and abolishment of the “Large Ghetto”. They were moved to the “Small Ghetto” and started working for Mrs Mosiewicz in her sewing mill. Finally even that place was destroyed and Jerzy was sent to the Hasag – Pelcery work camp getting the prisoner’s number 3170. He was forced to live without his family and worked in the machine construction section. Nevertheless, each day he thought about freedom and the end of the war that was yet to come one day. When he reaches the age of eighteen and felt like his life run through his fingers. He couldn’t see his family but he felt their concern due to small packages with white bread and onions that they sent him through some young man. He treated the gifts from his parents as a treasure since he knew that they still thought of him. Soon his parents and his brother were moved to the craftsman’s house in the same camp that Jerzy lived. The family was together again which brought happiness to their hearts. Despite many transportations of Jews – Einhorn’s family succeeded to stay together in the camp.
On the 16th of May 1945 soviet tanks arrived in Częstochowa. Germans retracted and all the imprisoned Jewish people were set free. Out of 39 thousands of Jews only 2118 survived. Many times Jerzy dreamt about that day and when it came he could not believe that it ultimately happened. He went back to school and got the secondary school certificate in the second High School in Częstochowa named after Romuald Traugutt. After graduation he started to study at the Medical University of Łódź where he met his future wife Nina. Unfortunately persecution of Jews did not ended completely with the end of the war. 
While Jerzy was in Denmark on the scholarship with some other students from Poland he got the information that one of the student’s from Łódź got killed and his body was left with a letter that contained threats addressed to other Jewish students. Jerzy and his parents decided that for his safety he should stayed abroad. Together with Nina and two other Jewish students Jerzy decided to go to Stockholm in Sweden since Denmark was closed for emigrants. The most helpful man appeared to be Gilel Storch from the World Jewish Congress. Jerzy and Nina started to study medicine at the Medical University in Uppsala. During that time Jerzy realized that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Nina because she was always there for him helping in all difficult moments. 
Young Einhorn got the offer to do his practice in the Domnarvets hospital placed in Borlänge. Later on in 1967 he started to work at Sweden’s prestigious institution of oncology, Radiumhemmet at the Karolinska Institute. He worked there for almost 38 years, helping people with cancer whose situations was the most dramatic. He was not only one of the most talented and diligent oncologist but also concerned with people’s problems politician. He pertained to the Group of the Christian Democrats and at the beginning of the 90’s he was the envoy of the Swedish Parliament. Many times he was awarded the highest ranks in the medial plebiscite of popularity.
Jerzy Einhorn owned his fame mostly to his medical achievements and perennial medical practice. During his medical work Einhorn won numerous prizes and distinctions. He was also one of the members of the Nobel Prize Committee and for over 25 years he was one of the people deciding about the Nobel Prize Laureate choice in the sphere of physiology and medicine. He stayed in hearts of so many people because of his selfless activities related to many improvements in the health care sector. He was a man easily respondent to people’s needs and their tragedy who always wanted to make people’s life better and easier. The remembrance of Jerzy Einhorn will stay in many people’s hearts and minds and thanks his featured memoir the recollection of the killed Jewish families will never be forgotten. 
 J.Einhorn, Chosen to live, Marpress Gdańsk 2002, p.12-15
 J.Einhorn, Chosen to live, Marpress Gdańsk 2002, p.23
 J.Einhorn, Chosen to live, Marpress Gdańsk 2002, p.162
 J.Einhorn, Chosen to live, Marpress Gdańsk 2002, p.190-197