Posted Bożena Przewoźnik
In 1630, the mayor of the city Christopher Goluchowski gave the Jews the privilege to settle there and to run a business, trade, open inns, vineyards and what` s the most important of all – the permission to built a synagogue and religious school. In accordance to this privilege a synagogue was erected in the year 1638 on the north of the old Jewish cemetery from 1556. Next to it appeared some buildings important to the community - the rabbi’s house, the Talmud – Torah house , mikvah, and the second religious school.
During the period of the Reformation, the town appeared to be one of the most strong centers of reform. After the expulsion of the Arians, the Jews inherited the business field , which soon brought material prosperity both to the city and its surroundings. The power of the Chmielnik Jews largely depended on the religious authorities of the local community, occupying a significant place in the life of the city.
Chmielnik was a subject to Vaad Hamedina in Cracow Kazimierz. Seventeenth century is characterized by high dynamics of the community’s economy . Most of the crop trade, animals, and wood were in the hands of Jewish merchants and brokers. they were also engaged in the cloth trade from Silesia and France. Having developed a symbiosis with the Catholics they had never been subject of persecution and discrimination. After regaining independence in 1921 Chmielnik had 7690 inhabitants, including 5,908 Jews. in 1929 the number of residents exceeded 10 thousand., out of which Jews made up 70%. We should pay attention to the quantitative and economic advantage: the Jews possessed 90.2% of shops in the city, the City Council comprised of 70%. The economical proportions were similar : 80% manufacturing and processing plants were in Jewish hands, the remaining 20% belonged to Catholics mainly engaged in agriculture. The major industry were a limestone mine, Chaim Frank Elijah Szlama lime, Deba Icek brewery, Icek Rajz winery, oil mill sof Brykmann, plant, carbonated water factory of Mosze Wesengarten. The special fattening farms Hmelnitski geese deserve a special attention as quite famous in the pre-war Europe.There were also some banks and credit institutions: Commercial Bank of Industry , Merchant Bank, Discount Bank and Cash Credit.
Political life of Chmielnik Jews flourished in the various parties and organizations, among them Agudas Isrolel (Aguda), Poale Right, Left Poale Zion, with its own library, and Mizrachi Jewish Scout Associatio - Brith Trumpeldor. On April 4th, 1935, the Aid Society For Poor and Sick Jews -Linas haCedek was created to support the needy ones financially and spiritually. The break of the World War II destroyed nearly 100% Chmielnik Jewish population, numbering at this time 5700 - 5900 inhabitants. As a result of refugees arrival, the Jewish population rapidly increased to 12.5 thousand. In early 1941, the Nazis established a ghetto, covering the whole city except streets adjacent to the fields. On 6 October 1942 continued liquidation of the Chmielnik ghetto. About 12 thousand. people were deported to the Treblinka death camp, the majority of them were exterminated at once. The liquidation of the ghetto was completed in March 1943 At the beginning of 1942 a compulsory labor camp for Jews was made, and it functioned to 9 March 1944. The Jews were subject to Nazis terror, expulsions, arrests, mass executions, depriving of the property. On a new cemetary established in 1820 on the Krucza Street in Chmielnik a monument dedicated to the memory of 250 Jewish inhabitants shot was erected.
After the war only a few Jews returned. The political situation – made it hard to reconstruct the Jewish life. Today in Chmielnik there is noone of the hundreds of the Holocaust survivors. There is only a memory and the silence of the stones.,
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January 9, 2012 | 5:31 am
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
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!
January 9, 2012 | 5:15 am
Posted Dana Hadadi- Israel/ Europe
Heading to take part inWING - the winter event in Italy I had some doubts. I’m definitely not a fan of organizers playing crucial part in designing my experience, not so much my thing. I rather believe in the random events life brings as I follow my individual path. So, this is what I finally did. I know that forming a target question while being on a quest, automatically leads you to answers you initially wished for automatically. (We are curious creatures, but with a strong affiliation to be affirmed). My findings might be dependent somehow on my personal agenda. I’m just lucky to have assign myself with one.
The affirmation of my query involves three main players:
The first one is a young Israeli visiting Italy, a former soldier in the IDF serving in Hevron, who (as an insider) drew me a brand new picture of a complex state our country is facing, He was the first Israeli I met and I must admit that Jews of Israel are gradually detaching from the Jewish culture they left in the Diaspora, as long as they are bound to be the dominant majority of the greatest Jewish community known as Israel. He holds this opinion as an educator of a critical historical Jewish movement which works in and outside Israel. (The movement of the 1st Kibbuzim)
The second is the vice-president of the Jewish community in Genova, working hard to keep his community alive. He described the Israel-Diaspora connection as inevitable in the utopic state to which we should aspire, with Jews contacting other Jews all over the world without boundaries or statuses. (He declined the definition I was trying to label him with- as a socialistic one).
The last, is a very famous Jewish Italian actor, who was accused many times for being a radical lefty, or post-Zionistic. He gave me some very convincing phrases out of our sources to prove, we are obliged to remain in the “Galut” in order to call ourselves Jews, as the Jewish people have no materialistic land, and they are bond in spiritual sense. Once you establish artificial tools to claim this spirituality out of its citizens, the structure formed absurdly negates all its essence.
Maybe I wanted to come out with these answers. Maybe answers I got from Israeli students I met here, who came to study I heard, but they didn’t satisfy me.
Does it mean I’m against Israel? Israel is my creator, and my only homeland forever.
Nevertheless, I’m proud to have grown a sense of confusion about its concept.
January 6, 2012 | 12:09 pm
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
If you had in your family a person who’s name was:
and lived before or during the WWII in Krakow or near this city and you have any document of buildings or flats ownership write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 24, 2011 | 7:15 am
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
December 15, 2011 | 4:05 am
Posted Olja Andrynowska
Banner with the inscription was being held by one of the Eritrean men during a demonstration at the Embassy of the United States last Friday of November in Tel Aviv. Other banners almost screamed:
“USA: The Victims need your help”,
“Eritrean lives are not for sale”,
“Rape in Sinai must be stopped”.
Some Israeli politicians have developed a habit of repeating that the asylum seekers in Israel are not threatened by anything or anyone in the countries they come in search of work, but absolutely do not take into account that over 50% of asylum seekers in Israel come from Eritrea, a small country situated in the Horn of Africa, which enjoys a well deserved bad reputation because of the lack of freedom of speech and brutal regime repeatedly violating human rights. Eritreans are the majority of victims of organized groups of Bedouin who smuggle the Israeli border in the count from $350 to $7,000 (following: “The Self-Perceived Needs of Homeless African Refugees in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park,” Suhail Stephen and Michael Schmautz.) (depending on race, religion and other factors), and if you are not able to meet the financial requirements Bedouins are to withstand as hostages, who can be a source of ograns to be transplanted and the victims of the most abominable crimes to frighten the rest. Women are brutally raped and many of them give birth to their children in Israel after because they are kept in prison in the Negev desert Saharonim too long to be still able to make abortion ( Quotation “An open letter from ARDC,” written by Nicholas Schlagman.) Further 35% comes from the Sudan, in particular from the two zones of conflict: Darfur and Southern Sudan and they are often people who managed to escape a brutal slaughter. The rest are citizens of different countries, including African, but not only. It is true that the number of asylum seekers is growing almost exponentially and is now estimated for 45,000 people. Why, instead of writing “refugee” I use the term ‘asylum seeker’? Well, it turns out that in a country founded by Jewish refugees, survivors of the Shoah, the reception of such status is equal to being the victims of modern genocide. Israel has not ratified the Geneva Convention of 1951, according to which:
“A refugee is a person who as a result founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or does not want to because of these concerns enjoy the protection of that country, or who has no nationality and being the result of such events, outside the country of his former habitual residence is unable or unwilling to return because of these concerns to the state. “
Since the inception of the State of Israel, the refugee status was granted to 190 people , while according to UNHCR, more than a hundred of them already live in Israel. The Olmert government decided to give the temporary status to the first 500 refugees from Darfur, but most of them had left Israel, or are getting ready for departure. Therefore it is an abuse which is based on telling people that the greatest dream of asylum seekers in Israel, is to remain in this country forever. The exceptional uncertainty about the fate makes it impossible to build a normal future there and refugees above all need a sense of security, not speculations concerning any future prospects. The reality of refugees in Israel is not optimistic one because their status is a kind of limbo - the abyss without the possibility of change, or the situation, of which they are often well aware.
Refugees from Africa usually receive conditional release visa, which must be renewed every three months what in practice means the only protection against deportation. The basic problem is that the vast majority of refugees is deprived of the opportunity to find legal employment, thus they are forced to work on the black market without any guarantee of receiving compensation or they appeal to doomed to charity organizations which have limited possibilities and thus cannot meet the needs of the number of people who currently stay in the Israel limbo. Some of the refugees are highly educated people and if they can count on any kind of work in Israel, it is usually the worst sort of physical work. Lawyer washing dishes at Tel Aviv’s lovely restaurant may not complain about his fate, but I look at it in disbelief and I wish that people changed their residence to a country that will reward them for their work, not only providing the basic rights, but also opportunities for development, according to their qualifications. Not only stalemate situation in the labor market is degrading for them - hundreds of refugees are becoming homeless, what can be seen around the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station . Every day late in the evening I pass people sleeping on playgrounds for children, the station building, in almost every available shelter. No one knows the number of women and children who live on the streets of Tel Aviv, and yet I know that most women in shelters, were taken there straight from the street. Refugees left to themselves are not able to meet the high cost of living. Sometimes I wonder if tourists and residents of the “white” and “bauhaus” Tel Aviv, know this. Perhaps living in the center or north of the city makes you unaware of the seriousness of the situation and labeling the refugees as economic migrants does not help them.
With all this discussion in the Knesset the law allowing to put in the prison all those who cross the Israeli border illegally in search of a safer piece of land, sounds like a gloomy joke. The people helping the opressed - often the ones that avoided being the victims of genocide - may also land in prison. How is it possible that in a democratic country such solutions are being discussed?
During my first visit in Israel I took part in the meeting for the new olim and one sentence is still in my memory:
“Israel is a country where everyone can make phone call to the Prime Minister”.
And I thought how it was amazing and quite comparable to Poland, the country where I was born. Now I think about - everyone or who? Maybe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, instead of going to Africa, could explore neglected southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv? Maybe the politicians instead of repeating the data, could meet real people and ask them who are they and why they are in Israel? And finally, whether the scars remaining after excision of the kidneys are convincing?
December 14, 2011 | 2:32 pm
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
TSKŻ- Social-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland is looking for heirs of houses, flats that during the WWII lost their owners.
If your name is… or you are a relative of this person:
1 Abraham Blumenkranz
2 Abrahamer Mendel
3 Abrahamer vel Mendel Emanuel
4 Altman Sara
5 Anna Staalerowa
6 Aron Bietscher
7 Becker Maurycy Jozef
8 Beitscher Aron
9 Beitscher Chawka Ryfka
10 Beitscher Maria
Please contact email@example.com
Very soon new list of heirs, please follow us.
December 14, 2011 | 4:35 am
Posted Pavel Pustelnik, UK
Who sees the elephant?
The event you should have taken part in? Civic Society Days on Migration and Human Development organized in Geneva in December this year is one of those. It has shown that we have a problem that we do not want to talk about.
What Is It All About?
Migration is one of those issues that high rank officials seem to remain silent on and smoothly switch to climate change, hunger in Africa or humongous deficit in country A, B or C. Even the United Nations, who claims to deal with all the problems of the world is reluctant to fill its agenda with the problems of migrants. If they are irregular, the situation is even worse. Obviously, there has been the High Level Dialogue on Migration back in 2006, but since then not more has changed. However, the elephant IS in the room. One of the effect of that status quo can be observed by the increased role of the civic society organizations. They tend to grab the unwanted land playing more and more important role in identifying problems and playing a key role in agenda-setting. Civic Society Days once again were supposed to be the tool for the global policy makers to consult the public and see what the problems are. The problems that from behind the fence of the UN quarters in Geneva may look very different.
This year over 180 delegates representing organizations that are dealing with migration has been invited to take part in the consultations that played a role of a side event to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). The participants of the main event have been mostly government representatives and consultations were populated by practitioners. They ranged from academia, business, human rights organizations as well as religious associations or churches. This misleadingly wide array could have been significantly reduced because more than 500 applicants have been rejected.
You’ve got 15 minutes
The NGOs have been meeting to for three days to work on a Statement that was presented to the governmental forum. The final version was of 13 pages and the chosen representatives were given 15 minutes to present the main ideas of the document. – The meeting is not about this quarter of hour that you are given. It is mostly about the fact that we meet here and can network, we can see the problems we are facing and look for solutions – says Carol Barton, who was in the United Methodist Church’s delegation. Most of the participants had this impression. Obviously, the constant sensitizing is vital, but the outcomes cannot be taken for granted.
Off the UN
Events like GFMD tend to be associated with a rigid schedule of meetings, lobbying for specific points in the agenda and polished-glass-environment of the UN buildings. Features that cause allergy to some of the activists, who suffocate there. There was a special space for them: Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights – where the grass roots organizations could share extensively and truly network. Seeing the contacts being exchanged all the time, projects drafted on little pieces of paper and discussions till late night was much more inspiring than sipping juice and eating pastries at the UN. The criminalization of migrants or lack of regular channels for migration finally became tangible through people who suffered from maltreatments, whose passports have been taken by the employers or whose families have been split due to hostile immigration laws.
The grey-haired man are on one side of the barricade, the group of man and women, who come from all walks of life is on the other side. The facilitation to promote the rights and the whole advocacy task relies mostly on individuals who are tremendously caring about the issue. The answer that comes from the international bodies is weak. The UN Rapporteur who comes to the activists and the only thing he can offer is saying ‘I am just writing a report, that is my task, but irregular migration is not a crime’ is not enough to fulfill the expectations.
But why was this an event that you should have taken part in? Why haven’t I written about a concert or a festival? Perhaps it is idealistic way of thinking, but the elephant will be still there, looking at us, playing with his ears and perhaps event punching our shoulders with the trunk, but as long as the migration is remaining in a shadow and rights-based policy making is a far cry, there is apparently need to engage to empower the diaspora of migrants to stand up and claim at least regularization.
Overtures of the great music pieces are well-known. Almost everyone can recognize the one that starts The Magic Flute or The Marriage of Figaro. Than, there are some pieces in the middle and it ends with a great ‘Finale’. It is similar with discussions on migration with high stake-holders. They see can easily say that the Filipinos and Filipinas are migrating, they know that there are people from North Africa trying to reach Europe or that perhaps there are some issues in Thailand. The ‘Finale’ happens when the hope for the better future drowns in the Mediterranean Sea or a huge trafficking is discovered. What is happening in between is just left apart and nobody feels responsible to tackle. The less public participation is seen in the debate over migration the less visible the problem is, and the less probable sensible labour migration policies are.