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MHPJ Newsletter No. 6
North American Council
 
FEBRUARY, 2006
   

 



NORTH AMERICAN COUNCIL
Victor Markowicz
Founding Donor & Co-Chairman
Stephen Solender
Co-Chairman & President
Sigmund Rolat
Treasurer
Michael Berkowicz
Chair, New York Region
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
Lee Lowell, Secretary


C O N T A C T S
NORTH AMERICAN COUNCIL
Stephen D. Solender
130 East 59 St, New York, NY 10022
Tel. 212 836-1536
Fax 212 836-1387
solenders@ujafedny.org 
 info@mhpjnac.org

Christina Orwicz-Gantcher
Director, Marketing & Communications communications@mhpjnac.org

MUSEUM OF THE HISTORY 
OF POLISH JEWS

48 Jelinka Street 
01-646 Warsaw, Poland
Tel. (48-22) 833-0021
Fax (48-22) 832-2043
museum@jewishmuseum.org.pl
www.jewishmuseum.org.pl
  

C  O  N  T  E  N  T  S
:: President Kaczynski in the U.S.
:: Crossing the Rift of History: A Symposium at the AIA
:: Presidential Appointment for Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka
:: From Concept to Museum - the New Status of the Museum
:: A Museum Evening at the Sarfatis
:: Sigmund Rolat Presents The Jews of Czestochowa
:: A Toronto Partnership
:: Forthcoming Events
:: The Museum in the Media
:: Become a Member of the Museum
 

President Kaczynski
in the
U.S.
Lech Kaczynski, President of the Republic of Poland and staunch supporter of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, visited Washington, DC February 8th and 9th.


G.W. Bush shows Pres. Kaczynski and his entourage around the White House. Photo Przemek Gadomski

As Mayor of Warsaw, Kaczynski played a vital role in creating the City-State-Association partnership to build the museum and was instrumental in securing the allocation of public funds for the construction of the building and for future operating costs. North American Council representative, Sigmund Rolat, and Founding Friend, Piotr Moncarz, met with the President Kaczynski in the Blair House and greeted him warmly on behalf of all the Friends of the Museum in the USA.
For the full text of Tad Taube's article about President Kaczynski click here.


Crossing the Rift of History:
A Symposium at the AIA


A sketch of the Museum design by Rainer Mahlämaki

In June 2005 an international jury announced the results of a worldwide competition for the architectural design of the Museum of History of Polish Jews (MHPJ) in Warsaw, to be built by 2008. Several world-renowned architects took part in the competition. The winning project was submitted by a team of Finnish architects, Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma.
On December 1st a distinguished panel convened in New York for a stimulating discussion of the story of this competition, special architectural and symbolic features of the winning entry and of other notable submissions, and how the building design helps bring to life the vision of the Museum. A rapt audience filled the auditorium of the Center for Architecture for this exciting evening organized by the North American Council of the MHPJ and the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), with the participation and support of the consulates of Finland and Poland.
The event was titled "Crossing the Rift of History," an allusion to the subject of the Museum and to the most arresting architectural feature of Mahlämaki's opus, the atrium hall which cuts through the entire mass of the building. It related directly to the AIA's 2005 theme, Architecture: Bringing Cultures Together. The planned Museum in Warsaw was recognized as a perfect expression of this theme, with its focus on a thousand-year history and presence of a minority group in a host culture. The organizers posed provocative questions about Mahlamäki's design: will his building become a memorial-like monument honoring a mourned but celebrated past? Or will its physical aspect make its own contribution to a living institution which, while paying homage to history, may also help reintegrate that past into the fabric of contemporary Polish culture?
- Jerzy Warman
To read the full article and more about the AIA Event and the architecture of the future Museum building click here.


Presidential Appointment
for Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka

On January 20, 2005, the newly elected President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski who, until his election last October, served as the Mayor of Warsaw, appointed Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, the Deputy Director of the MHPJ, as Undersecretary of State in the Chancellery of the President. She advises the President on a wide range of his relationships with governmental and non-governmental agencies, local governments, as well as various communities and groups of interest. Her portfolio includes ethnic minority affairs and especially Polish-Jewish relations. The Director of the Museum, Jerzy Halbersztadt, commenting on the announcement, said that her appointment is proof of the President's appreciation and confidence in Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka's talent and achievements, but also reflects his understanding of the importance of Polish-Jewish relations and of the significance of our Museum.
Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka's responsibilities at the Museum will now be handled by Ewa Wierzynska, one of the founders and former member of the North American Council of MHPJ, who was also the first editor of this Newsletter.


From Concept to Museum
- the New Status of the Museum in
Warsaw
On November 4, 2005, the Mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, officially registered The Museum of the History of Polish Jews as a separate legal entity. No longer a 'Project,' it is now an officially designated a Museum. At the same time, on the recommendation of the Board of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, and with the consent of the Ministry of Culture, he appointed Jerzy Halbersztadt as the museum director. The director is the principal of the museum with executive powers regarding the museum operations, including exhibition content and educational programs.
The official registration of the Museum as a designated "cultural institution" followed the trilateral agreement signed in January 2005 by the Minister of Culture, Waldemar Dabrowski, the then Mayor of Warsaw - Lech Kaczynski, and professor Jerzy Tomaszewski on behalf of the Association. In accordance with the law governing cultural institutions, the agreement creates the Museum of the History of Polish Jews as a publicly supported organization. The agreement established the Museum a legal and administrative entity - unprecedented in Poland - as a public-private partnership and an autonomous cultural institution. The partnership structure is reflected in the composition of the Board of the Museum, which will include representatives of the Polish government, the City of Warsaw, the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute and major private donors in America and Western Europe.
For the full text and more about the status of the Museum click here.


A Museum Evening at the Sarfatis


From left: David Sarfati, Shiri Sarfati, Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Krzysztof Kasprzyk and Lydia Sarfati

On November 30th Lydia and David Sarfati, and their daughter Shiri, hosted a fundraising parlor meeting in their home in New York City. The evening was the first in a planned series of private receptions held to help raise funds for the permanent exhibition and other programs of the Museum.
Among the 50 guests present were: Krzysztof Kasprzyk, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York, Illka Kallioma, Cultural Attache of Finland, Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, deputy director of the Museum, and Monika Fabijanska, director of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York. Rainer Mahlamaki, co-author of the winning project for the museum building, was also present.
One of the consultants for the museum, Dr. Michael Berenbaum, a well-known author and historian, captured the essence of the mission of the Museum by saying, "the Polish audience has to deal with the presence of the absent and the absence of the present," referring to the need for Poles to gain further understanding about Jewish life on Polish soil for nearly 1000 years. He said that the Museum will not merely enshrine the shadow of death - it will serve to light the flame of hope. The importance of erecting the museum, celebrating the life and work of many generations of Polish Jews in the city which was once the center of the Jewish diaspora, touched a nerve with the Polish-born hostess Lydia Sarfati: "The Museum will show how we lived, and not just how we died," she said.
Shiri Sarfati recounted her experiences of visits to Poland as a youth. Her initial trip led her to want to revisit the place of her maternal heritage and when she traveled again to Poland as an adult, she saw "an amazing place, full of life." Ms. Sarfati encourages individuals of Polish Jewish descent to visit Poland. The North American Council has sponsored missions to Poland in previous years. If you are interested in participating in one please send an e-mail to events@mhpjnac.org or call 212-836-1536.


Sigmund Rolat Presents
The Jews of
Czestochowa


The New Synagogue in Czestochowa

An important and moving exhibition, "The Jews of Czestochowa: Coexistence, Holocaust, Memory" recently made a transatlantic trip from Poland to New York, where it occupied two gallery rooms at the Polish Consulate for nine days in November. The culturally and politically significant show was the topic of a symposium about Jews of Poland held for an overflow audience of prominent members of the Polish and Jewish communities in New York before it left to journey through the United States. The exhibit is an example of the type of multimedia presentations you will see in the permanent galleries of Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
The revelatory display was sponsored by Sigmund Rolat, a native of Czestochowa, Holocaust survivor and a major donor to the MHPJ project, who created the show with his cousin Alan Silberstein. Rolat was determined that the exhibition would render history objectively because, he said, "retouching history is destroying history." - Katarzyna Buczkowska.
To read the full article and for more about the Jews of Czestochowa click here.


A Toronto Partnership


Henry Dasko and Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka

On January 5, 2006, Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, still in her capacity as the Deputy Director of the MHPJ, presented the project to the Toronto audience. The event, organized by the Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation of Canada, Toronto Chapter, marked the first official introduction of the Museum in this country. The Foundation, formed in 1988 with chapters in Toronto and Montreal, is devoted to the preservation of the unique heritage of Polish Jewry, fostering research, promoting a better understanding between Poles and Jews and encouraging greater knowledge of the history and culture of the Polish Jewry.
The PJHF founding member Henry Dasko introduced Ms. Ziomecka to the large audience and the Toronto Chapter Chair Peter Jassem, welcomed distinguished guests including the Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Mr. Piotr Konowrocki and the Consul of Finland, Ms. Sisko Peltonen-Sirén.
Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka's audio-visual presentation of the Museum was very well received and garnered extensive coverage in the largest Polish-language Canadian newspaper "Gazeta", in the weekly "Canadian Jewish News" and on ethnic television.
To read these articles, please go to "Gazeta" and "Canadian Jewish News".

Forthcoming Events
Wednesday March 1 
AMBASSADOR REITER AND MICHAEL BERENBAUM TO SPEAK ABOUT THE
CURRENT STATE OF POLISH - AMERICAN RELATIONS AND 1000 YEARS OF JEWISH HISTORY
IN
POLAND
Founding Friends of the Museum, Grazyna and Bill Simon, will host a dinner and program entitled "The Current State of Polish-American Relations and 1000 Years of Jewish History in Poland" at the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, California. Janusz Reiter, Poland's newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, and Michael Berenbaum, a well-known author and consultant in the field of Holocaust studies as well as Polish-Jewish history, will lead a discussion about the evolving landscape of Polish-American and Polish-Jewish dialogue. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews will be discussed in the context of these exciting and changing times for both nations and for Jewish communities throughout the world. This reception is by invitation only. If you are interested in attending please contact Steve Solender at solenders@ujafedny.org or 212-836-1536. 


Friday March 3, 2006 6:15 pm 
AMBASSADOR PELEG AND AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE KOZLOWSKI TO SPEAK
AT SHABBAT
SERVICES AT PARK AVENUE SYNAGOGUE
Park Avenue Synagogue, in New York City, will host Amassador David Peleg and Ambassador-at-Large Maciej Kozlowski, during Shabbat evening services March 3. Park Avenue Synagogue is located at 50 East 87th Street in Manhattan.
His Excellency David Peleg, Israel Ambassador to Poland, has held Israeli diplomatic appointments in such places as London, Zambia, United Nations, Atlanta and Washington D.C. In 2004 he was chosen as Ambassador to Poland. His Excellency Maciej Kozlowski, Ambassador-at-Large, is a noted scholar and has written much on such subjects as Mediterranean archeology, English literature, Polish-Ukrainian and Polish-Jewish relations. He has represented his country as Deputy Head of Mission of the Polish Embassy in Washington D.C. He was Ambassador to Israel from 1999 to 2003. 


Sunday May 21st, at 5 pm 
PERFORMANCE AT THE NEW VICTORY THEATER TO BENEFIT THE MUSEUM
OF THE HISTORY OF POLISH JEWS

Please join us for a performance of Brundibar and Comedy on the Bridge at the New Victory Theater, in New York City, in a new collaboration by author Tony Kushner and artist Maurice Sendak. Ticket proceeds to benefit the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. These two one-act plays were written during the years directly preceding WII and have come to symbolize the triumph of hope and survival of the human spirit during times of deepest despair. Parents are encouraged to bring children. Reception to follow.
Tickets are $100 for front mezzanine and orchestra seating. For further information please email events@mhpjnac.org or call 212-836-1536. 

The Museum in the Media
In a front page article in The New York Sun, Alex Storozynski wrote on November 28, 2005, about the plans for the Museum in Warsaw. For the full text click here.
The December issue of Faith & Form magazine carried an article on the architectural competition for the building of the MHPJ by its editor, Dr. Michael J. Crosbie. Dr. Crosbie provides an abbreviated history of the project, discusses the jury process in detail, provides a description of the four finalist projects and presents the jury's comments on the winning design. For the full text click here.
On February 9th, the JTA carried an article by Museum supporter and President of the Jewish Heritage Foundation Tad Taube about the evolution of Poland-Israeli relations and Pres. Kaczynski's role. For the full text click here.
Read further press coverage about the Museum on our website at www.jewishmuseum.org.pl


Become a Member of the Museum
Please help us maintain the momentum we have achieved on the path to building the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Become a member of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews today. The Museum project needs your financial support more than ever in order to finance the permanent exhibit, temporary exhibits and to maintain ongoing operations. We invite you to donate at the following levels: $25,000, $20,000, $15,000, $10,000, $7,500, $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500 or your most generous gift. To donate online go to www.nyc777.com/museum/Donate-info.htm
To become a Founding Friend of the Museum or join the Circle of Friends and for full list of Founding Friends and members of the Circle of Friends please go to www.nyc777.com/museum
Please let us know if you too would like to host a parlor meeting devoted to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews for your friends and family members. Call Stephen Solender at 212-836-1806 or email solenders@ujafedny.org


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