Jewish Journal

Establishment vs. young leaders- score 0:1

by Klaudia Klimek

January 9, 2012 | 4:31 am

Betty Q

When becoming a president of the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, Cracow (not religious organization) where the majority of members are people aged 50 + and a lot up, I expected to have a difficult task. One of the duties imposed upon my presidency was to attract more young Jews to the organization. Then it started to go its own way.  Chanukah was approaching and what I wanted to propose during our dinner, would be something to attract them as much and give a sign that TSKZ Krakow is an organization open to young people. In the same time my colleague – Betty Q ,the first burlesque dancer in Poland , proposed to give a Chanukah show and I didn’t think about it for a long time. Finally I accepted the unconventional, as for our organization, performance, believing that it will be a clear message - I invite all young and creative.

The show was something different from the last year`s stetel songs… When the clothes were falling gracefully from Betty Q, I was wondering what the reaction of the guests was. Students watched it smiling with satisfaction in front of the older generation who seemed to have mixed feelings. There was a moment of doubt in my mind. Was it really a good idea? Was the audience prepared for this? All in all, I thought, they have what they wanted, they wanted a change and they got it. A few days after the performance a few days I tried to collect the opinions . Some positive, some not, but I have to admit that there were more positive than negative ones. I do not know if it was the result of the fact that the Jewish community likes me, or after all if they saw that a new board introduced some changes…
Interestingly, when Chanukah was gone and I started to think about Purim some voices of Polish and foreign establishment were heard.
The establishment spoke with disapproval asking whether it should`n be more serious, not so frivolous.

This time I didn`t think about pluses and minuses of my idea and its consequences. For me this was a break event, because the organization with tradition, the older generation and even senior management gave the green light to the unusual as for Polish Chanukah celebrations performance. I wondered why the others who are not having much to do with our community (because of the border) started to comment on a short clip of the event and spin arguments about the sacred nature and mood, which supposedly did not fit the Betty Q corsets . Of course, I answer that fitted. In America Jewish stars of burlesque win the first prizes, their dance is treated as an art, there are numerous Chanukah shows but was it enough respectable for the royal Krakow ?  . This is really what shouldn`t be done ! Why – according to the general opinion – Polish Jews, still being object of fiery antisemitism should shows something more serious, more adequate to the climate of discrimination ?

I thought – ah-ha, the establishment woke up and begins to scold me . And that’s the point. Young people, Jewish community leaders, innovators and guides slowly began to occupy a higher seat, having a growing impact on the direction of major Jewish organizations and foundations. At last they began to broadcast on quite different wavelength. I understand that not everyone likes it and one not always sleeps well at night disturbed by some truth, that there comes a time of great change especially here between Eastern Europe Jewish communities where traditional governments kept steady and firm always based on strong “background”. Young people travel more often, thanks to various possibilities they attend various seminars and take part in many educational programs. They are clever enough to see that other countries keep up with the real life , and after coming back they see monotonous,  conservative and full of prudery existence. So they come back and try to change their environment for the better, becoming the engine of change according to the Jewish philosophy - “leave behind a better world” and the lucky one who receives in this way specific support those around them. I have received this from my community and I thank for this already planning Purim. I`m going to keep on being active because young people are among us and the establishment instead of rising its finger may start to learn, because it always becomes to a Jew!

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