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.
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November 21, 2011 | 2:54 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 | 12:29 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.
November 20, 2011 | 12:22 pm
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek
“Man exists as long as he is remembered by the others”
Eva Halina Olszewska
On Wednesday 02.11.2011 in one of the teaching rooms of the Galicia Jewish Museum we could see a multimedial presentation concerning the well-known and eminent both in Polish culture and science people of Jewish origin. The presentation consisted of photographs and short biographies of 19 famous personalities. Many books, documentaries, biographies and films were devoted to them to show that these people are still remembered and to confirm that they are an integral part of our history and heritage we should be proud of.
You can find among them
v Leopold Infeld-eminent physicist, the author of works on general relativity, field theory and electrodynamics.
v Henry Sawicka-communist activist, participant of the Warsaw Uprising and the first President of the Walka Młodych Association .
Brandstaetter v Roman poet-playwright, writer, translator and scholar of the Bible.
v Irena Krzywicka-feminist, writer, journalist and translator. Brave propagator of the conscious motherhood, contraception and sex education.
v Vera Gran-famous cabaret singe and a film actress.
v Joseph Sare-Polish architect and builder, second President of the City of Krakow and a deputy to the national parliament.
v Herman Diaman-Excellent diplomat , specialist in Polish-German relations. Particularly concerned on the issue of policy in these two countries. Throughout his life actively involved in the defense of civil rights and social equality.
v-chemist Tadeusz Estreicher university professor in Krakow and Freiburg. He measured the boiling and melting point of hydrogen chloride, and constructed a device for liquefying hydrogen.
v Ida Kmińska-the author of many dramas, a writer, a film director. As the first actress from Communist countries was nominated for an Oscar. She conducetd the Warsaw Jewish Theatre before the war in Warsaw and up to 1968 was strongly connected with it.
v Adolf Beck, one of the world’s first electroencephalographs, physician, philosopher. He found that the electrical activity of the animals is altered by impulses.
v Louis Zamenchof-doctor, ophthalmologist, founder of Esperanto, the international language. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1913
v Andrzej Munk-participant of the Warsaw Uprising, a famous Polish film director, a representative of Polish Film School.
v-lawyer Raphael Lemkin who formulated concept of “crime and barbarism.” .During the Nuremberg process was an adviser to Jackson, Chief Prosecutor on behalf of the United States. In the 70`s nominated for seven times to the Nobel Prize
v Wladyslaw Kopaliński-lexicographer, translator, editor. In Poland, known as the author of fundamental works of lexicographical and encyclopedic works.
v Krzysztof Kamil Baczynski- one of the most famous Polish poets, Army cadet soldier, member of Szare Szeregi , one of the representatives of the Columbus Generation.
v Jan Kiepura-famous opera singer and actor. The artist of world fame, appeared in twelve musicals in Poland and abroad.
v-writer Stanislaw Lem, philosopher, futurologist, the representative of Science Fiction literary mainstream science fiction. One of the most popular Polish writers in the world. His books have been translated into 41 languages. His name was given to the asteroid and the first Polish satellite.
Helena Rubinstein v-creator of one of the greatest empires the world’s beauty. Millionaire, connoissere art and beauty.
v Joseph Klotz- football player, the defender, the one who scored the first ever goal for the Polish national team.
November 9, 2011 | 10:44 am
Posted Ian Shulman
- Mark, thank you so much once more for agreeing to give this short interview. What surprised me the most during my research was your involvement in numerous different projects and having lectures on numerous topics. Tell me more about it: how did you start, how do you manage it and what are the things among those which are the most important for you personally?
- I guess one reason why I’ve been involved in different projects during the past years is getting older, as I get more time to do it (smiles). Also I was never good in formal education, so when I started college in the early 70s to study theater, for me it was much more important actually to do theater. Most of what I have done was self-taught. I love teaching, I love engaging ideas. I always try to learn more. I like writing, I like having a lot of different jobs. What is very important for me is working with people. I want to help people look at themselves, to grow - whatever age they are, to examine themselves, to try to be the best person they can be. I find it in a Jewish context, but I think it’s universal as well.
- I see you have been involved in different things from young age. Was it always connected with Judaism?
- Not necessarily. Well, definitely I went to the direction of the 60s in terms of the music, in terms of the drugs, in terms of culture and lifestyle. I didn’t do anything “Jewishly” per se, but I always though that the part of me trying to strive to be a good person came from my Jewish roots. I got then more involved as I started teaching, I got the opportunity doing theater and Jewish education, I kind of weaved a bit into different worlds.
- Also I know that you give lectures on many very different topics. So do you have any rules or factors which determine the topic?
- No, I’m just talking on topics I am interested in. So, speaking about sex is good, but for example I wouldn’t speak about things I am not confident in or don’t have enough knowledge about. I draw my personal background; I’m trying to bring the ideas which are really important, and I’m pretty opened in my opinions.
- How do people usually perceive topics like the one we had today, meaning for example sexual topics, which can be perceived in different ways?
- Usually pretty open. I try to start with some humour at the beginning. It also depends if I work with younger ages or if I feel that people are anxious to get all the things right at the beginning: I’ve done such things where I give them markers and put a big piece of paper on the wall, and write things like ‘breasts’, ‘vagina’, ‘penis’, ‘sexual intercourse’, and get them write down any other words they know related to those things, just to get that all ‘out of the table’. Then I read it out loud and everyone laughs and giggles. I think that humour is extremely important for people and that’s something they want to hear.
- Do you feel that some topics of your lectures evoke a lot of interest and debates, while others are not that attractive for the audience?
- It’s a good question. I guess that for me as a teacher what I am looking for is the engagement of ideas, and I really strive that every session I do, no matter what the topic is, somehow goes into an individual - otherwise I waste your time. I don’t want to talk about something flat, two-dimensional; I really want to be living and breathing. No matter if something happened a thousand of three thousand years ago, or if it is a myth of legend, but if it doesn’t go into an individual, to something which makes meaning for me, then I feel as if I have wasted one or two hours.
- I know that you give a lot of lectures in Eastern and Central Europe. What is your personal connection to that region?
- I was offered to work in Eastern Europe so that to help in development by organization called JDC, Joint Distribution Committee, and they sent me to do a leadership training to a lot of places. It was not that much of doing tours, but more about working with a Jewish community here, to bring ideas, to help empower them, to run own communities in Eastern in Central Europe, to give them necessary skills, like public speaking, or giving them information about the past. So it just worked out work-wise, and I am fascinated and feel very comfortable in here. I don’t feel as comfortable in America where I am from. I feel very at ease in Europe.
Mark Lazar (57) is a Californian-born travelling lecturer currently based in Jerusalem with more then 35 years of experience in seminars and workshops on topics related to Jewish culture, ethics, history etc. He is also an active contributor to numerous different Jewish projects.
November 7, 2011 | 4:05 pm
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
November 3, 2011 | 4:44 pm
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek from Poland
On Saturday 22nd October at Jozefa Street 36 the meeting for children was held once again. The workshop was conducted in a nice atmosphere and professional way by Agnieszka Wozowicz and Sylwia Liszka. The subject of the meeting was the Jewish Holiday SUKKOT ( Feast of Tabernacles/ Święto Szałasów or Kutschki in Polish ).
A few minutes past noon peaceful and quiet Cheder opened its door to a group of smiling, noisy children who arrived there with their parents. The young visitors at once got interested in a tent placed on a low pedestal. While introducing the meeting Agnieszka used the popular method of brain storm and the kids learnt what the SUKKOT is, how it is built, what it is used for and what does it symbolize. The next stage was making the decorations, so the children reached for crayons, scissors , glue and coloured paper. The kids showed their artistic abilities making long paper chains and cut-outs or drawing the sheds. The last stage was putting decorations around and asking all participants inside.
The effect of the work could be honestly called the little work of art. In two hours` time the young, talented kids managed to construct and decorate a beautiful tent. The influence of such activities on the development of a young child is fundamental teaching him how to work in a group and in this way giving the basis for the future socialization .
The next meeting is going to be held during one of the most beautiful Jewish Holiday - CHANUKKA. Thus we would like welcome all the parents with their kids to Cheder on the Cracow`s Kazimierz.
November 3, 2011 | 2:45 pm
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek from Poland
On 20th October at 6p.m as a part of Jewish Film Meeting in the Jewish Culture Centre on Cracow`s Kazimierz, Meiselsa St the film about George Weidefeld was shown. Georg Weidenfeld, the one that survived the Holocaust - a German patriot, sionist, conneaussour of women and opera is also one of the most admired British publishers and an influential politician . Founding the Israel as well as re-uniting og Germany would not be possible without him.
The film was made in 2009, directed by Stephan Reichenberger, and the basis was written by Mathias Dopfner. They together managed to created a genial image of this incredible man. During the film George Weidenfeld is telling the story of his life to a long year friend, Mathias Dopfner. The way he does it awakes admiration and liking. The film is rich in retrospections, the heroes thoughts as well as in the comic moments. To prove the last one we can quote the journalist that asked him if anyone- apart of his mother - took care of him. Yes, was the answer. I had a nunny, she was a country whore and when my partents left she used to meet with her lover and closed me in my room.
We meet Georg Weidefeld during his journeys to London, New York, Tel Awiw, Vienn and Berlin. His stay in these town is rich in events - business talks, visits to opera, hotels, restaurants and meeting his friends. Watching the film gives you the feeling of intimacy and youn get more and more surprised while watching the film. You will understand why when you read questions below .
If you want to learn
1. What deals did he make with the nazi during his studies ?
2. Why is he a fan of Richard Wagner, the most antisemitic composer in the history of music?
3. How could organize last minute escape from Vienna and survive the Holocaust and what role a controversial Kurt Weldehim played in his life ?
4. What did he do in the BBC department of propaganda and information and why 25 million of Brits listened to him for 40 seconds ?
5. How did he make his fortune ?
6. What was he doing in Israel accompanying the first state`s Prime Minister Chaim Weizman ?
7. What does he do in the House of Lords ?
8. Why do the most important politicians come to his birhtday parties ?
9. How does he manage to find devoted enemies ?
10. What is his receipe for being young at the age of 90 ?
This is a really must-see film that will tell you the answer for all above questions, but still you would find it difficult to believe in what you have heard. The story behind the one of the most influential person in the world is a really surprising one.
Moreover, the film is made in an excellent, precise way. It is full of scenes from the world we do not know much about, enriched with opinions of the people for whom Weidenfeld is a symbol and example to follow - the man who brought to agreement of many and made the contemporary world look different.
Don`t waste yout time - see it !
The film was shown thanks to: Jewish Association CZULENT, TSKŻ Kraków, Jewish Motifs Film Festival
Katarzyna Odrzywołek for Jewrnalism Poland