Posted Pavel Pustelnik
Starting out. The new place, the new ideas and more fears that expectations. Perhaps this certain moment is the best one to engage in a new enterprise. When I first heard of Jewrnalism I thought the idea is as brilliant as needed and expected both from the Jewish community and non-Jewish people. I felt I could be the target. Getting to know a new place, which for me means Cardiff, is always related to getting to know its history, roots and very often tragic moments. The question is, are there any Jew-related issues here? Of course, the easiest way is to google it, youtube it and finally like it on Facebook, but…
Wandering around the city you do not see explicit signs of the Jewish presence here, but you can easily guess, that they must have been here. For those, who are not very familiar with the city’s location, I would just disclose a secret: Cardiff used to be a huge harbor, which means a lot of travelers, merchant and trade. Therefore, the river Taff, that touches the land and reflects the skies over the Welsh capital must have been a witness of Jewish people coming to work or live here. Bustling in the harbor, goods being brought from distant lands, ring a bell, isn’t it? Following the thread to the end, it is easy to find that there used to be a vivid community of so called “port Jews”. The specifics of their settlements was different, that the one of Jews in Amsterdam for example. We don’t talk here about the refugees looking for a place after the Inquisition and staying in diasporic connections. It seems that the Jewish life in Cardiff or rather on its seaside was mostly business-oriented.
Let’s come back to the present days. The recent developments has transformed the city’s bay into an organism that has nothing to do with the traditionally perceived harbor. It was the largest regeneration project in the UK over the last years. That is not bad, if we have a look at the testimonies. In the 1939, Howard Spring would describe the port area (that used to be called Tiger Bay) as “a warren of seamen’s boarding houses, dubious hotels, ships’ chandlers smelling of rope and tarapaulin… children of the strangest colours, fruit of frightful mesalliances, staggered half-naked about the streets… It was a dirty, smelly, rotten and romantic district, an offence and an inspiration…” .
Looking for at least the particles of the spirit is pointless – Cardiff Bay, as the area Spring was describing, is called now, is the city’s most vibrant and modern part. The Jewish footprint has been erased just as all the artifacts left by the ‘Chinks, Dagos, Lascars and Levantines’. The area that used to be compared with Hamburg, Shanghai or New Orleans has died in order to rebirth. Unfortunately, the port Jews has not been commemorated. Where are than, the signs of Jewish presence? Have they been erased for good and non-traceable any more? This will be explored very soon and the Cardiff’s United Synagogue seems to be offering a wealth of information on that. Does the Rabbi know more about the port Jews in Cardiff? This is to be checked soon!
 Cesarami D. Port Jews: Jewish communities in cosmopolitan maritime trading centres, 1550-1950, London, Routledge 2002.
 Spring H. Heaven Lies About Us: a fragment of infancy, New York, Viking Press, 1939.
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November 24, 2011 | 4:35 am
Posted Pavel Pustelnik
Have you ever heard about the National Rebirth of Poland (NRB)? Perhaps not, but it seems that the organization is receiving a lot of hype right now. The reasons are simple: the more scandalous you are the more they talk about you. However, there is a second layer here, dangerous, I’m afraid.
Living outside the country you were born in sometimes can make you a bit ‘immune’ to the information about the homeland. Parties are changing, taxes are sometimes going up, sometimes down, but as long as there is no war in the air, you do not follow the info-websites so eagerly. Recently however, a news hit the headlines. The organization has registered two controversial logos for their official use. The first is the celtic cross and the other, called by the organization ‘Sodomizing forbidden’ is an antigay symbol used many times by the organization. Who are those people, who catch attention through pretty peculiar activities?
The National Rebirth of Poland, ‘is the oldest Polish nationalist organization after WWII. Development of NOP (in Polish: Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski) from the day of raise (Nov. 10th, 1981)’ you can read on their website. This is followed by the history and finally the aims: ‘NOP attaches special importance to education of militants and sympathizers organizing training cycles on social and political issues, economy, religion and history. NOP is an ideological movement, however, for legal convenience, from 1992 is registered as a political party by the District Court in Warsaw and National Electoral Commission.’ For many it conveys a picture of a organization that has strong mindset but keeps it in the safe framework. The problem is that the reality is significantly more complex.
Firstly, the people who are engaged in the movement are very radical not only in their opinions but in their behavior as well. The recent events that have taken place in Warsaw during the manifestations on the Independence Day, are one of many examples. Secondly, the strong, homophobic inclination is being exposed more often and the campaign to recognize legally ‘Sodomizing forbidden’ logo was it climax. Unfortunately, the campaign proved to be successful. From now on the obscene sign can be exposed at any public space. The excuse is that the political organization (and this is how NRB is officially seen) can appear through its signs wherever they feel it is appropriate. The tool of ridiculing a minority used is a hideous play whose goal is stigmatization and humiliation. The overlaying myths are being produced in scope of so-called ‘safeguarding of traditional values’.
The process of unfolding the NRB’s discourse shows further groups that are within the interest of the organization. Among them there are Jewish individuals and communities. In one of the articles published on the official NRB’s website the author claims that the International Holocaust Remembrance Day established by the United Nations had a very precise aim. It was a cover-up for the politics of genocide that Israel is exercising against Palestine. What is more, the article underline Zionistic imperialism embodied in politics, economy and territorial struggle. This situates the organization close to their counterparts such us Forza Nuova in Italy, Movimento Social Republicano or the British National Party. Since the negation of Holocaust is forbidden by law, the hatred towards Jews is under the vestiges of alleged economical power of the Jewish lobby or international problems of Israel.
The direction of the path that NRB is following is sadly sullen. The strong nationalistic approach, eccentrically radical mindset and the language that is located far away from the civilized political discourse should cause concerns and anxiety of any minority. Gay people, Africans, Jews, Muslims, migrants, physically challenged. It is hard to predict who will be next, but the fact that the state is not openly against has nothing to do with the freedom of speech and democratic rules. The increasing urgency to act against the discriminatory statements instead of being blocked has been legitimatized. The further alliances will be happy to join the radicals and than the movement may be just to big to handle…
The NRB’s official YouTube channel:
Here you can find the whole array of registered logos that NRB can use:
November 23, 2011 | 2:34 pm
Posted Pavel Pustelnik
The Interfaith Week that Has Happened Somewhere Else
The idea of bringing believers of different faiths to one place and giving them chance to talk and share is fabulous. As long as this happens. The Interfaith Week in Cardiff might have taken place, but do not ask me where.
‘Interfaith Week arrives!’ shouts the website of the Cardiff University Students’ Union. The program was full of events: from down-to-earth tasting of different foods to panel discussion. I was really looking forward to taking part. Finally the Monday when everything was supposed to start arrived. Together with a friend we went to check the venue, but there were no signs, no people around. What made the situation worse, the date displayed at the chaplaincy that was supposed to be the venue differed from the one on the website. Gorgeous. Instead of getting to know the differences between Sikhism and Baha-I we had a walk. Not bad, but not entirely satisfying our appetites.
The second day seemed to be equally important: ‘Informal inter-faith chat’. Probably a chance to meet new people, having tea, thinking of what we could do together. I was almost feeling the cozy atmosphere while heading to the venue. How bitter the disappointment was… Welcoming atmosphere was reduced to an advertisement on the door: ‘The Inter-faith chat postponed. We are at the lecture in the National Museum Wales’. That is really brilliant, but who are ‘we’? And postponed to when? I felt as if someone was playing dirty games with me. Again, I had an evening bike-ride, listened to calming music of Olafur Arnalds, but did not feel richer in any inter-faith experience.
Some people ‘Third time is a charm’. I arrived at 1:00 pm sharp and presented myself with the most wonderful smile I could produce to people who have been playing with me for the last three days. Rang the bell. An absolutely stunning blond female student opens the door and smiles millions of times nicer than me. ‘I’m saved’ I thought. ‘Well, interfaith group, they might be somewhere around’ she said. We went upstairs and downstairs, but apparently they decided to be very interfaith closed and did not appear at all. I was offered a tea in the Anglican chaplaincy. Well, kind of interfaith, but not exactly what I was expecting.
November 22, 2011 | 9:55 am
Posted Dana INT.
Being offered to take part in Diversity tour Hungary in Budapest I realised immediately this will be a right event for me to attend. It took place in a venue which is well recognized with the left wing liberal guild of the Jewish community, the one that carries upon its flag to support any group that feels itself deprived regarding its expression in the conventional crowd of the majority. The seminar was lead by the two guides - a French woman and an Italian girl. Except me, and an Israeli anthropologist giving lectures at the University , all participants were Hungarian.
In the city very liberal in advocating pluralism where I come from, Tel Aviv, I used to be quite active in the queer scene. This community’s voice is known to be loudly heard among the locals. Over here, in Budapest, this part of the population didn’t come to my mind that often, since in the scope of my duties towards the Jewish youth whom I work with, I mainly stressed their hunger for the general quest for their own Jewish identity.
It came to me as a surprise that Judaism seems contradic gay`s lifestyle, when coming to combine the two: being a gay and also being a Jewish, and as a simple woman I was not aware of these challenges they offer to our society.
Most of the gay people I knew were fighting their way out their sexual closet without need to handle what it means to them to be gay in a Jewish environment, naturally, because in Israel this Jewish environment is given, and secularity was the conventional way.
The question of how we should be involved when it comes to perserving identities that are not directly related to the group we assign ourselves with is a basic human question waiting to be asked whenever the civil rights’ topic is being discussed.
Do we interfere with women being exported to slavery work around Europe because they are women, even if they are not from our country? Do we join the protest of Roman’s in the state where we live, even though they are of a different ethnic group? Do we deal with legalization process of expanding rules to the benefit of people with other sexual orientation then us?
It is very hard to find a motivation to liberate ourselves - first, outside the little bubble of our community’s need first. We trust those weak groups to struggle for their demands, because what the hell do we know about being a woman on trafficking, a Roman being assaulted or a homosexual wanting to marry his/her love. We don’t. As non-Jews don’t know how a Jew does want to live his life in the Diaspora. But it is necessary for us to know, to listen and to spread out. Being active by becoming aware, you might learn something about yourself, about your place in the world. It is your responsibility.
For further interest on this topic you might as well search for the 2nd season of ‘Srugim’- a TV series produced in Jerusalem dealing with a young gay religious guy.
For further info about the seminar and to its blog:
November 22, 2011 | 8:54 am
Posted Dmitri MacMillen
Days after arriving in France for my student exchange, I was unexpectedly shaking the hand of a literary and political inspiration by the name of Grossman. No, regrettably not Vassily Grossman’s, whose epic Life and Fate I continue to grind through, but David Grossman’s. The appearance of the Israeli novelist, serving as a “prologue” for the literature festival Bibliothèques idéales was awaited with immense expectation in Strasbourg, the open-doors event itself flanked by the city mayor and witnessed by a near-full Cité de la Musique et de la Danse. For the past two decades, Grossman has established himself as Israel’s best-known writer and among the foremost novelists of the modern age, translated in over thirty languages and read the world over. Equally recognised, however, are his efforts as a political activist, effectively harnessing his influence to speak on matters of peace and social justice, whether through his richly themed novels or participation in Peace Now alongside fellow public intellectuals such as Amos Oz, or as lately observed, addressing the “Tentifada” demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem.
The “rencontre” began on a rather lighter note, Grossman initially asked of his credentials as a rap songwriter, having recently penned lines for Israel’s most popular rappers through his rhyming of slogans from over 120 Israeli bumper stickers, the musical product subsequently topping the national charts for over a year. The focus soon shifted to his latest novel, To the End of the Land, a work tracing the trajectory of Israel since 1967, through the eyes of the mother of a fallen soldier in the army. Inspired by the loss of his eldest son during the war in Lebanon five years ago, it has received plaudits as his finest insight yet into the psyche of modern Israeli society and its evolution over the past decades. When it was first proposed to him by the host of the event, that the novel was essentially one concerning the geography of Israel, Grossman agreed, synthesising it as a mirroring the path he explored from the north of the country to its south. While doing so, he realised the land was “just earth” and only temporary, upon which “all wars and quarrels were a waste of time” and a more normal way capable of being understood. The book, he further suggested, was a clash between two cultures, those of the envelope and what happens within the country. The former consists of the machinery of the army in “delivering the message,” so critical in forging a national metaphor of a “suit of armour, without a knight, without a person within.” Contrasting with this, lies the vitality and dynamism of its individuals whom Grossman strives to “keep alive,” most evidently in the form of the novel’s central figure Ora, who upon predicting the imminent delivery of the announcement, flees across the terrain of the land in search of her her former lover Avram, the secret father of her deceased son.
When discussing a work so poignant for its very author, the host could not but allude to the very announcement Grossman himself had to presence, drawing gasps from several in the audience previously unaware of this. Grossman said he had begun the novel three years and three months prior to the final days of the second Lebanese war, and upon the fulfilment of Shiva, returned to writing it. The experience led him to reaffirm his attachment to writing, an act granting him “a way of being in this life,” and strengthening his characteristic commitment to the themes of the “neighbourship between life and death…the need to document it…and how they are intertwined.” Seconding the host’s assertion that the novel was a secular prayer, he claimed that more and more people were becoming detached from ideology and finding refuge in literature. Asked of the role Ora plays as Jewish figure, he hinted at her mediating between two layers, one that of the Hamatzav, or the “situation” of constant bleeding for hundreds of years, which though having broken her family, she continues to infuse with warmth and significance. When nearing the end of the literary discussion, and unsurprisingly in France, the host could not help but enquire about the sexuality prevailing throughout the novel, and whether it at all reflected the author’s own autobiographical experiences. Quipping that all his fiction does inevitably become autobiographical , Grossman more morosely put it as representing the high voltage nature of Israeli society, and its inherent wholeness, vitality, sensuality, emotions, youthfulness and fear of death.
Having implicitly addressed the themes of war and peace throughout the analysis of To the End of the Land, Grossman was asked to provide a commentary on the social protests in Israel, of which he has emerged as a prominent supporter. Describing it as an “intriguing, exciting phenomenon,” he believed awareness of the developments in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria had been critical in prompting Israelis from all walks of life to camp in the nation’s streets. Marvelling at how after 44 years of deep-seated polarisation within society, the protests had emerged as a unifying force, rekindling a sense of solidarity, mutual responsibility and equality for so long absent, he accepted that for now it was best to put aside the politics and allow the country to “recover.” Nonetheless, he was hopeful that the demands for equality and dignity would lead to political results, and not necessarily ones concerned with the internal socio-economic imbalances. Queried whether the left was capable of playing a part in this all, he said its vast unpopularity, summed up by its nickname “leftovers,” had deterred the protesters from directly associating themselves with it. But neither had the right, Grossman argued, provided any vision or positive policy for the past years, thus allowing a vacuum of real leadership to emerge of late. The nature of Israeli politics, for so long revolving around security, would now evolve, he hoped, “these ideas [those of the protests] those that will allow societies to live.” Our role, he concluded, ever so important at this stage, is to “insist there is an alternative…that we are not doomed to reality… that life is not one catastrophe to another.”
And then he scuttled off, only to quickly re-emerge at the Cité’s entrance to sign his books for the outgoing audience. Leaflets printed by a Jewish-Muslim association in Strasbourg, in support of the upcoming bid for Palestinian statehood at the General Assembly, made their way around, its political message however feeling somewhat eerily out of sync with the nuanced and measured potency of Grossman’s own calls for peace. As I remarked to him, in gratitude for his signing of my newly purchased copy ofVoir ci-dessous: Amour, the English title of which I cannot seem to trace anywhere, it appears as if only figures such as himself are capable of so poignantly understanding the complexities of Israel.
November 21, 2011 | 4:02 pm
Posted Katarzyna Kotula
One is too little or a few words about the Jewrnalism project
Today it is sixty six years since the most tragic military conflict in the history of our planet finished and we still listen about Polish concentration camps and a stereotype of a Pole – according to many Europeans – is a clinical example of anti-Semitism and many other possible prejudices, so the development as well as the existence of a Jewish community is hardly possible here. What`s more, these terrifying opinions are heard too often.
Any different opinions ? Do we really have to be tortured with a war feedback making contemporary Polish – Jewish relations complicated ? Does it have to influence the international relationship between Jewish communities making them different rather than bringing the together ?
In the situations that need concrete, direct actions a single human is limited to a passive engagement rather than to an engaged activity ( I`d like to, anyway what can I do ? ...it does not depend on me in any way…Of course I`m against, but I haven`t got any influence on that…and many, many others ).
People say that one is too small, but shall the activity and determination of an engaged individual follow the scheme of this allegory concerning human activity ?
A newly born project JEWRNALISM is a real contradiction of such an approach.
Its author and an animator, Klaudia Klimek is one of the few who want to strengthen the integration of the Jewish communities on the world.
As Klaudia says the project`s task is to create a group of journalists in European countries who would provide the materials such as articles, photographs or films, that soon would be distributed to Jewish media in Israel and the U.S.A.
The main task of the reporters is to show lives of the local communities stressing their creativity and existence.
The project`s idea is to influence the relations built on the basis of understanding, esteem and equality. It also has to fight with the stereotype, harmful approach concerning Jews from the Eastern Europe.
Klaudia adds, that the project has to help the Israel and American Jews to understand their Eastern brothers.
Let them see our life in a quite different way, culture that doesn`t die and is not based only on the overwhelming ideology of the Holocaust.
We want to show that our creativity in making projects for the whole community would make us equal partners in Jewish global creativity, not the receivers of grants only.
I hope that mutual understanding would influence the unity of the Jewish nation all over the world making it more strong.
The basis for the peaceful co-existence of different groups is a tolerance. Its lack was the result of ignorance and disinformation.
While asked about the contemporary causes of prejudices Klaudia says : I think that we are the ones who make and maintain prejudices. For example – the educational programs for the leaders of the Jewish communities are limited to a given country only, what does not make any sense. It is useless to make invisible borders between, for example, Polish and German Jews. In this way we create the borders between the East and the West.
JEWRNALISM is a very important idea, stressing all that brings together and neglecting all that differs.
All interested in the matter are welcome to the official Project’s site - www.jewrnalism.org where they can find many really interesting and inspiring press materials.
November 21, 2011 | 3:54 pm
Posted Katarzyna Kotula
The 20th century is often referred to as an age of genocide – it began with the extreminations of Armenians in Turkey and finished with the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia. the Holocaust itself thus was not the only one example of manslaughter. So what makes the Holocaust open the list of infamous ranking of extermination acts ?
The Holocaust was not the only genocide-both before and after a similar crime took place.
You have mentioned the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, when – according to historians 600 thousand to 1.5 million people were killed.
This event is said to be the first genocide of the twentieth century.
The Holocaust was the second largest act of genocide, but, in the same time the first, when it comes to the importance attached to it. Why did this happen? First, between the Holocaust and other genocides there are some differences. Secondly, it is the Holocaust that will directly affect the issue of perception of genocide by the international community. the definition of genocide was formed on the basis of it. It was formed by the Polish Jew, Raphael Lemkin, who during the World War II repeatedly alerted the public about the ” deeds ” of the Nazis in the Europe.
In 1948 Human Rights Convention was formulated. Since then the European countries started to pay attention not only to following it, but also to prevent the future genocide.
Here we should pay attention to the specific way the Jews cultivate the memory about those who were murdered.
In the very beginning they did not pay much attention to the problem of the Holocaust, because they did not want go back to the history, in some way shameful, tragic, which showed how the Jews were subject to persecution. The heroism was more important for them to show it.
During this time, Israel was struggling with its neighbors, who were an existential threat to the state. Hence stressing of the heroism proved to be more important than the martyrdom. The situation gradually changed in the 50s with the rise of Yad Veshem in Jerusalem. The trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 was a turning point. As it was broadcast on the radio, many people had a chance to confront this difficult part of history. It was then that Israeli society began to change its attitude to the Holocaust, treating it as part of their national identity. The Holocaust started to be used as a unifying element for the society in danger, which was then and still is valid. The memory of the Holocaust is to make Israeli society aware of the fact that they are still in danger and if they lack solidarity the history may repeat. The Holocaust became a powerful political tool then.
What makes the Holocaust different form many other crimes done to different social groups ?
Yehuda Bauer, who is considered to be one of the greatest contemporary historians dealing with the Holocaust, said that this crime is not an exceptional event, but an unprecedented one.
First, this unique dimension of the Holocaust is manifested in the pursuit of the Germans in the total elimination of the Jewish people: for the first time in the history of mankind all the people belonging to the one ethnic group, regardless of age, sex and place of residence, were sentenced to death.
Secondly, the idea to exterminate all the Jews had no rational reasons as well as it was not compatible with the economic and political principles of the Third Reich.
All other features of the Holocaust can be found in other genocides.
The reference is inter alia the use of latest technology to kill people or the dehumanization of the victims.
Auschwitz has grown into a symbol of terror, genocide and the Shoah. Today, however, the image of “Auschwitz extermination site” is displaced with the idea of “Auschwitz-museum” - a place where tourists come to explore, see and buy souvenirs. Should we move in this direction and treat such places as museums or treat them as places of honor and memory of those who were murdered here?
Jacek Lachendro in one of his books “Demolish and plough ” tries to answer the question, that the prisoners immediately after the war had to face : what to do with such a place? Some argued that the camp should be destructed , others postulated to keep it as an eternal warning. When it comes to Auschwitz itself, the second approach was chosen. Instead, we know that there are several other camps that look completely different (I mean mainly Treblinka, where, in principle, outside part of the railway ramp, we have no other residues). Many people are convinced that Auschwitz can be used as an educational aid. Teaching in a place like that may result in the forming of certain attitudes, which in future will prevent similar crimes
Anyway – how to educate, if there is nothing to be seen or nothing to touch ...? That`s why a certain amount of many different artifacts or the barrocks were left there. What`s more, the Auschwitz and the Holocaust International Education Centre leads its activity there.
Its aim is not only to inform transfer about what happened there , but also education, education for peace, tolerance and for the prevention of crimes against humanity.
We can therefore conclude that a place like Auschwitz plays a double role: on one hand, it is indeed a place of memory, the largest World War II cemetery in the world, but on the other hand , it is a place where museum lessons can be conducted or where we can purchase educational materials.
What is important Auschwitz became an element of the contemporary culture what naturally makes its reception controversial.
We have to be aware of the fact that it is a place of memory concerning many nations and many ethnic groups, what makes it more difficult while estimating the role it should play..
Today, death and violence are no longer taboo issues because they are constantly present in our reality. It is true that the mass media show the unreal image of death, so we get accustomed to suffering and as the result it doesn`t impress us so much, So how should we teach young people about the Holocaust to make them understand its meaning and not to treat it as just another crime ?
Nowadays when our sensitivity to death devalued in some way , it is a very difficult task . We are bombarded with informations concerning various tragic events that happen around us and just get used to this - what else can surprise us? The problem is also that young people do not really want to go back to the past, believing that they are closed topics (the history as the subject depreciated and devaluated). Of course a visit to the memorial site plays an important role in the education. As has been already mentioned, in the Auschwitz Museum, you can literally experience what happened there. The knowledge gained in the authentic place where the crime was commited has a specific impact on the young man. And this perhaps is the way to make him realize it t is the real world where it really happened! But that’s not all. To educate for the prevention of crimes against humanity, we need to change people from inside and a thorough working out the attitude, which in future will not copy the negative patterns.
The basis for peaceful coexistence among people of different race, religion or culture is tolerance. Is it something that we can learn or it is just something generated by the others , I mean are we born with the sense of tolerance or not ?
It seems to me that tolerance can be learned (in the end many of the qualities and skills are acquired with time). But we must remember that this is not only the process of acquiring knowledge but also experience. Tolerance can be learnt in the process of meeting other people and revising our own ideas about them. This is what education for tolerance is based on - knowledge and stereotypes confronted during the contact with another human being.
From a Polish perspective these events are quite different than being seen from the Jewish point of view. There still exists the idea of Polish nation helping the prosecuted Jews, shopwing courage, empathy and generosity despite the severe punishment . However, are the Polish people aware aware of certain abuses associated with the tragic situation of the Jews? And if we can (should we ?) take responsibility for it?
It is well known that each of us tends to remember the good things only, and remove the bad ones from our consciousness. It is a process characteristic for every society, also this in Poland. For many years we didn`t talk about “shameful things” for various reasons ( first it was convenient, but some political factors in the time of the communism had a reasonable impact on what was told ). Then Polish feeling of justice , their help, giving as the example well-known people like Irena Sendler who died recently. Anyway certain facts were forgotten – I mean the fact that part of Polish society was actually following the Nazi propaganda, committing various crimes ranging from theft through collaboration with the Nazi to murder.
The Polish state wanted to be perceived as the only victim of World War II, therefore there was no place for even a single fault that could be commited. The situation changed after the fall of the communism, when the first attempts to revise recent history, including the Polish-Jewish relations were made . It turned out that, for example, July 10, 1941 in Jedwabne Poles have accompanied the German crimes, the murder of their 300Jewish neighbors . For many Poles it was a shock-some of them treated it as an insult and felt injured in their national pride. After long studies, it turned out that it was true.
What’s more, it was not the only incident in the region of Bialystok, there were several more acts of similar violence.
This discovery shaped the new picture of a Polish society and it still exists in the national memory than some of the crimes commited by Poles, anyway this fact is less controversial today, it is treated merely as purely historical fact.
Who does not remember the history is about to experience it again – how do you understand this, Doctor ?
These words by George Sante Jama, are engraved on one of the barracks in Auschwitz. I must admit that during one of my first visits to the camp, they stuck in my memory so much that I still often repeat them and I think about their meaning. The author of those words probably meant that the memory of the tragic events that can protect us from their repetition. I agree with Sante Jama, and I think that if we forget about what happened, it would be easier for us to commit a similar crime, but keeping the consequences in our minds, will be some kind of future warning .
November 20, 2011 | 1:29 pm
Posted Ian Shulman
It is still hard for me to believe, but it did happen - first Limmud in Austria did take place in Vienna on November 13th. Couple of weeks before the event, when the most part of the preparation was already behind, the organizational team had a meeting with Clive Lawton, the man who founded the first Limmud 30 years ago in the United Kingdom. According to Clive, having returned from a Jewish educational festival in New York, he and his friends had the idea of organizing a similar event in the UK. This idea was said to be naive and unrealistic, as Jewish community in the UK was perceived as passive, discrete and lacked motivated young people comparing to the one in New York. Meanwhile, Clive was determined to realize his vision, which is now known as Limmud - at least so that do disprove that critical statement. As one of the coordinators of Limmud Vienna, I somehow feel just like Clive did 30 years ago.
Limmud is the internation festival of Jewish learning, one or several days of lectures, discussions, workshops, concerts, exhibitions and whatever else having a link with Jewish culture, tradition and identity. Here, in accordance with one of the core Jewish traditions, everyone has a chance to be both a teacher and a student, as long as he or she has something to share and is willing to discover something. Limmud is not a youth event, anyone can and encouraged to take part; still, obviously it requires young and active people to kick-start the organizational process. Holding a Limmud in Vienna, a city which Jewish background is legendary, seemed to me personally as a very honourable must-do. So the reason why Limmud didn’t take place in Vienna till now can only be that these motivated youth was not there to start it. Being one of those people meant a big honour and an important mission.
I joined the team of Limmud approximately one month before the event itself, so closer to the ending phase of the preparation. However, there was still enough of work to do. It is the moment when you find out that behind the shiny idea and vision there lies tonnes of routine, hard but yet necessary work. And seeing this work resulting in a, I might say, successful event is a great feeling.
Of course, the first Limmud in Vienna didn’t manage to reach the scope of the festivals in some other places for various reasons. However, what was pointed out by many guests is that this event managed to generate a very special, home and cozy atmosphere. Thanks to Lauder Business School which has offered us their facilities, bilingual English/German programme ranging from cooking workshop and theatre tryout to art exhibition and concert, of course with lectures on various topics in between. But the greatest reward was this special holiday joy, which everyone seem to smell during the last festive hours of the event, with exhibition, concert, wine, tired, hungry, but truly happy coordinators, volunteers and guests.
P.S. Someone asked me after the event: “So did you coordinators eventually get paid for the work you’ve done?”. Had he visit the event itself, he would understand why I was laughing after his words.