From: JTA Newsdesk <email@example.com>
Sent: Mon Jun 20 20:35:12 2005
Subject: JTA Complete (June 21, 2005)
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
IN THIS EDITION:
The U.N. at 60
Museum looks at history of 'Protocols'
German's vandalism has political message
Czech town hosts historic bat mitzvah
Recovering a Polish Jewish past
NEWS AT A GLANCE:
* Palestinian terrorists killed
an Israeli in the
Rider, 28, from the Hermesh settlement, was shot in the forehead Monday
while driving, and a 16-year-old passenger was wounded. Islamic Jihad
claimed responsibility for the attack. In the
woman was caught trying to smuggle a bomb into
border crossing. Media reports described her as a member of the
Palestinians' ruling Fatah Party who was due to receive treatment in an
calling on the Palestinians to quash terrorism and on
settlements. The statement was issued Monday after President Bush met with
E.U. Council President Jean-Claude Juncker, E.U foreign policy chief Javier
Solana and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Also Monday,
the U.S. State Department said the Palestinian Authority must act against
terrorism after terrorists killed an Israeli soldier and an Israeli civilian
in recent days.
accompanying the Israeli prime minister's car in
witnesses said. The motorcade circumvented him while a police car gave
chase. Under interrogation, the suspect said he merely
* The international organization of the Likud Party issued a legal
challenge to Ariel Sharon. World Likud, home to a strong faction that
opposes the Israeli prime minister's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip,
is arguing that
Ra'anana Mayor Zeev Bielski to head the Jewish Agency
World Zionist Organization, Ha'aretz reported. In nominating Bielski, Sharon
didn't first consult with World Likud, which Sunday chose former Cabinet
minister Natan Sharansky as its candidate. Sharansky and Bielski are
scheduled to appear in Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday.
* The Reform and Conservative movements on Monday endorsed Zeev
Bielski's candidacy to head the Jewish Agency for
organizational arms of the liberal movements are in
gathering of the Zionist General Council. The movements' support was
expected to bolster Bielski's chances of being elected JAFI chairman during
a meeting of the agency's general assembly and its board of governors next
meeting would be held in
Tuesday's talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and P.A.
President Mahmoud Abbas had been held up after the Palestinians expressed
displeasure at the prospect of meeting in
demand as the capital of their own future state. Officials said Monday that
the Palestinian Authority relented after
was the only option.
* A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee approved funds for
operations subcommittee approved standard levels of assistance for a number
Palestinians, to $150 million, per President Bush's request. That $150
million is in addition to the same amount approved earlier this year in
emergency assistance to the Palestinians. The subcommittee also approved the
expected $2.28 billion in military assistance to
* Two pro-Israel measures were attached to the U.N. reform act passed
which recommends funding cuts if the United Nations fails to adopt
accountability reforms, also would expand the Western European and Others
Group at the United Nations to afford
rights and privileges, said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who authored
the pro-Israel measures. The other pro-Israel measure would withhold funds
commensurate with the cost of running offices "focused on the Palestinian
agenda" until such offices are eliminated or consolidated into other U.N.
* The Bush administration wants Congress to maintain current levels of
the various forms of aid that we grant to
Condoleezza Rice said Monday in a talk at the
"We would like the Congress to support the administration's proposal for aid
* An Israeli journalist visited
published an account Monday of a recent trip to the Islamic Republic, in
what appeared to be a first for the Israeli press. Azoulai, who did not say
how she gained an Iranian entry permit, described spending Shabbat with the
Jewish community of
cohesive and politically insecure, many of them dreaming of joining
* An Israeli Arab who defrauded Muslims and Islamic organizations,
including terrorist groups, is pleading with Canadian officials not to
deport him to
Agbareia, a 39-year-old
has been deported from
* Larry Collins, who co-authored "O Jerusalem," a best-selling account
authored a number of best-selling documentary books with Dominique Lapierre.
"O Jerusalem," published in 1971, was an account, based on a wide range of
interviews and research, of
end of World War II and its founding in 1948.
* An American journalist who rescued more than 2,000 artists and
writers from the Nazis will be posthumously honored. Varian Fry will have a
street in his hometown of
ceremony June 26.
In 1940 Fry traveled to
network to rescue refugee intellectuals being persecuted by the Nazis. He
succeeded in saving artists Marc Chagall, Marcell Duchamp, Max Ernst and
Jacques Lipschitz and writers Franz Werfel, Lion Feuchtwanger and Hannah
Arendt, among others.
* A bar mitzvah boy donated more than $14,000 in gifts to the
New Yorker Jesse Graff's donation, through the UJA's "Give a Mitzvah-Do a
Mitzvah Project," will pay for the finals of the Israel Association of
Community Centers' Junior Soccer League, which organizes games among Jewish
and Arab youth. The family included a request in Jesse's bar mitzvah
invitations asking guests to donate money to the Israeli association rather
than give him gifts.
* A media
watchdog group gave its first "Dishonest Reporting
award to a Canadian Broadcasting Company reporter. CBC reporter Neil
Macdonald, whose repeated negative
on-air clarifications and an admission by a CBC ombudsman of a perception of
bias, took the "prize" sponsored by
son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, was a runner-up for "The
Fence," a nationally televised documentary about Israel's West Bank security
barrier that romanticized the leader of the Al Aksa Brigades in Jenin as a
"skinny renegade" on the run from Israeli ambushes.
* "The Da Vinci Code" tops Israeli high-schoolers' lists of favorite
books. According to an Education Ministry study released this week, Dan
Brown's best-selling book, as well as Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of
the Dog in the Night-Time," are the books most read by Israeli 11th- and
12th-graders. In junior high schools, J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban" won out.
* A French court opened a preliminary investigation into the
distribution of a free journal with anti-Semitic contents. "The Book of
Cultural Philosophy" has been distributed at the University of Lyon-III
since the end of 2004. The journals include passages that question "invading
foreigners of Semitic culture, with their behavior, customs and habits,
rites and cultures."
* Argentine Jewish leader Leo Werthein died June 14 at age 69.
Werthein led the Tzedakah Jewish Foundation from 1995-2001. He also served
as president of the Argentine Rural Association.
* Eating grapes can reduce the risk of heart disease, Israeli
researchers believe. According to a
month in the U.S.-based Journal of Nutrition after two years of research,
grapes in powdered form, fed to mice who had been exposed to high levels of
cholesterol, reduced their risk of heart attack by 50 percent compared to a
control group. The grapes' salutary value was ascribed to anti-oxidants in
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
For U.N.'s 60th birthday,
Jewish groups have a few wishes
By Rachel Pomerance
60th anniversary of its founding in
bittersweet for Jewish observers.
It was the United Nations that sanctioned the State of Israel's birth in
1948, but it gave the Jewish state the status of an ugly stepchild --
constantly singling out
among U.N. member-states, from full membership in the regional groupings
that apportion key positions at the world body.
In the past year, the U.N. Department of Public Information convened a
daylong conference on anti-Semitism, devoting more time to the topic than
the United Nations ever before had.
In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death
camps, the U.N. General Assembly held a special session and a Holocaust
exhibit in the lobby of U.N. headquarters was launched with the playing of
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also attended the opening of the new Yad
Vashem museum in
This month, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, an umbrella group of 52 Jewish organizations, reported a very
friendly meeting with Annan.
And last week,
General Assembly vice presidents, the first time
position in more than half a century.
"All these things, beyond their symbolic importance, are also things that
herald a totally new treatment of
symbolism in this very difficult and hostile environment is also very
important," Gillerman told JTA.
The recent Jewish achievements and the 60th anniversary of the United
Nations -- founded on June 26, 1945 -- come as Annan strives to push through
a package of reforms for the world body.
Jewish officials praise Annan for backing some critical Jewish initiatives,
but say a test of the secretary-general's strength is the extent to which he
makes fair treatment of
Annan's reform package doesn't explicitly cite fairer
but Jewish officials believe that steps he is demanding to streamline the
organization bode well for
U.N. Commission on Human Rights into a smaller council -- not populated by
serial human-rights violators -- could change that body's agenda.
In addition, Annan plans to review any committee that has existed for more
than five years. That would include special committees devoted exclusively
to the plight of the Palestinians that
propaganda organs and are eager to close.
"The singling out of
reform debate," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch in
It dominates and monopolizes so many U.N. bodies."
As examples, Neuer cited the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which issues
more resolutions against
World Health Organization, which last month held a special session on the
a resolution opposed by only a handful of countries.
Furthermore, Annan's supportive statements, while positive, need to reach
beyond the Jewish community, Neuer said.
For example, in his
participation in the Western European and Others Group.
membership in the regional group at U.N. headquarters in
at U.N. offices in
But when he spoke in April to the Human Rights
"didn't mention a word of it -- and that's where the change has to happen,"
On the other hand, Felice Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee's
Jacob Blaustein Institute for Human Rights, praised the fact that Annan told
the Human Rights Commission it was not credible and needed to be replaced.
"Kofi Annan has been courageous and has broken with past secretaries-general
in reflecting honestly on the U.N.'s failings when it
has come to
anti-Semitism, but he still needs to do more," she said, pointing to
entrenched bias at the institution.
"We're finally beginning to get these issues out from the shadows. We
finally have the straight talk about anti-Semitism from the front office.
What we don't have is it coming from the political bodies," she said. "I
would like to see the secretary-general's leadership mirrored by others who
serve as top officials of the U.N."
Amy Goldstein, director of U.N. affairs for B'nai B'rith International, had
Ever since the United Nations fulfilled the Jewish right to
self-determination by granting
rights, she said.
"After 60 years, we need to reform the United Nations to return it to the
original ideas of the framers and to make it a place where all peoples,
including the Jewish people, are treated equally," Goldstein said.
Others feel more optimistic.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference, said
the recent meeting with Annan was a success.
The meeting addressed many issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace
"He was actually pretty responsive to everything," Hoenlein said of Annan.
Hoenlein noted that Annan "indicated support for the idea of pursuing the
'road map' " -- an internationally backed peace plan -- and not backing the
Palestinian demand to jump immediately to final-status negotiations before
the two sides have met their commitments in intermediate stages.
For his part, Gillerman views the recent advancements as irreversible.
A new world view is taking shape among member states after Sept. 11,
Gillerman said, pointing to shifting politics in the
Israeli-Palestinian peace process to
General Assembly, where Gillerman said he will try to steer the agenda away
from the usual slew of anti-Israel resolutions.
the only U.N. body with binding authority.
"Nothing is impossible for
available, we will fight for," Gillerman said. "The sky's the limit."
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ARTS & CULTURE
History of a lie: Museum traces
the story of infamous 'Protocols'
By Avi Mayer
foreign clerics in
American Jewish Committee, had been asked by the State Department to help
convey to the guests the American ethos of tolerance and mutual
So it was a bit of a shock when one of the visitors, a Muslim cleric from
book about the Jews" at the Cairo Book Fair: "The Protocols of the Elders of
Berger now is director of communications at the United States Holocaust
The modest exhibit includes copies of the book that Hitler looked to for
inspiration and Henry Ford disseminated for general consumption.
Berger said that the book seems to have "a new life."
"It confounds people," he said. "I can't explain it."
The Protocols outline a plan for world domination supposedly compiled by a
gathering of Jewish leaders held during the First Zionist Conference in
1897. In the account, the characters lay out a step-by-step strategy to fool
gentiles -- referred to as "goyim" -- into doing their bidding.
Plans range from the replacement of the pope to the establishment of a
global Jewish government and the appointment of a "king of the Jews."
The exhibit includes copies of the Protocols from
images, including representations of globes trapped in the clutches of
massive "Jewish" snakes, arachnids, tentacled, squid-like creatures and
conniving, hook-nosed faces.
A German-language copy from 1920
prayer book or an early Zionist manual, complete with a blue-and-white Star
of David flag and golden type reading, "All Israel are responsible for one
another" in Hebrew.
The language that appears most prominently among the artifacts is Arabic,
with numerous issues from
Last year, Wal-Mart was found to be selling an English-language edition of
the Protocols on its Web site. The company made a "business decision" to
remove the book from the site after widespread criticism.
According to Kenneth Jacobson, associate national director of the
Anti-Defamation League, the persistence of the phenomenon is simple: The
Protocols satisfy virtually every manifestation of contemporary
From Holocaust denial to conspiracy theories surrounding Sept. 11 and the
"The Protocols are representative of the pernicious and insidious nature of
anti-Semitism," he said. "They portray the Jews as secretive,
conspiratorial, alien, all-powerful."
Of particular note is the resurgence of those themes in bookstores and
television screens around the Islamic world, Jacobson said.
"The Protocols never died," Jacobson said. "They've never gone away. They're
at the core of historic anti-Semitism."
Though the origins of the Protocols remain uncertain, scholars believe much
of the work was plagiarized from an 1864 pamphlet written by French satirist
Maurice Joly lampooning Napoleon III's political ambitions, and had nothing
to do with the Jews.
Hermann Goedsche, a German spy, swiped Joly's pamphlet and excerpts from a
novel by Alexandre Dumas in his book "
In a chapter entitled "The Jewish Cemetery in
Representatives of the Twelve Tribes of Israel," Goedsche depicted a secret
rabbinical council which met in the cemetery at midnight every 100 years to
plan the agenda for the Jewish conspiracy.
The book was translated into Russian in 1872. In 1891, the Czarist secret
police were using it to incite popular ire against
population and divert public attention from the country's political woes.
The work appeared in its final form and under the title "The Protocols of
the Learned Elders of Zion" in 1897, apparently compiled by Mathieu
Golovinski, an associate of Czar Nicholas II.
The Protocols first reached American shores in 1917 when Russian emigre
Boris Brazil translated them into English.
In 1920, industrialist Henry Ford sponsored the printing of 500,000 copies
of the work and included excerpts of the Protocols in
Independent through 1927. The
Ford's own diatribe, "The International Jew."
British diplomat Lucien Wolf -- who in 1917 had strongly supported the
issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the document pledging British support
for a Jewish homeland in the
Goedsche's writings, and published his findings in
Later that year, The Times of London ran a series of articles proving that
the work was a forgery, and American Herman Bernstein authored a book
documenting its history.
By 1924, however, the Protocols had been translated into German and found
their way to Hitler's prison cell. Taken by the book, Hitler referred to it
in "Mein Kampf."
"To what an extent the whole existence of this people is based on a
continuous lie is shown incomparably by the 'Protocols of the Elders of
become the common property of a people the Jewish menace may be considered
Protocols published in Nazi Germany in 1933.
The collection is on display through the end of the year.
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German's 'art' has political motive:
stopping honor for Waffen SS dead
By Toby Axelrod
Kastner has been destroying private property. Someone has to do it, he says.
It's not just any property Kastner is after. Virtually every Nov. 1 since
1993, he has gone to a cemetery in
from wreaths laid at the graves of veterans of the Waffen SS, a military
division that took part in war crimes.
public property. Because Kastner declined to answer the last summons from
request of Austrian courts.
The state prosecutor in charge, Martin Hofmann, said patience with Kastner
is running out.
"I could discontinue the case because of the low level of guilt," he told
JTA in a telephone interview. "But Mr. Kastner does it again every year. He
knows he does something illegal but does it again and again, out of his
political convictions," as well as a desire for publicity.
Still, Hofmann said he's unlikely to request a heavy sentence: Kastner could
get up to 2 years on probation or an unspecified fine if convicted.
Juergen Arnold, Kastner's attorney, called state prosecutors "dumb."
"The court sees simply 'damage to property,' but they don't care that it is
damage to the property of a criminal association," he said.
"It's typical German authoritarian thinking, not to the left or right but
straight ahead, as in 'We have our laws and have to
apply them,' "
said. "This is how they thought 60 years ago, and this is how they will
think in 100 years."
For years, Kastner, who is married to a psychologist, has been calling
attention to aspects of the Nazi past that some would rather forget. In
German, his work is called "Aktionskunst," or art as a means of political
"Art cannot be punished in
Kastner received official permission last fall to place a temporary
installation of 17 suitcases outside a building in
had been deported. The names of the deportees are written on the suitcases,
which are painted white.
Kastner says he won't remove the installation until the building, which is
used as a library, places a plaque in remembrance of the Jews who lived
In January 2005, Kastner was one of five Germans to receive the annual
Obermayer German Jewish History Award for his dedication to remembering the
He began his annual Austrian protest action in 1993, snipping the ribbons
from wreaths that comrades and relatives of Waffen SS
cemetery on Nov. 1, a general holiday for remembrance of the dead.
Some of the comrades have been forced in the past to remove badges and
medals bearing swastika symbols, but the wreaths dedicated to the Waffen SS
are perfectly legal.
But "I can't ignore it," said Kastner, who placed the cut ribbons in a
Kastner has urged others to join him, and the actions are reported regularly
in the Austrian press. One article reported that the SS wreaths had been
"beschnitten," which means both "cut" and "circumcised."
"The Nazis were especially upset about that headline," Kastner said.
Kastner seems to enjoy rattling the wreath layers. In 2001, he succeeded in
getting permission for a klezmer group to play a song in the cemetery at the
same time as those honoring the Waffen SS members were accompanied by a
"I would really like to stop my actions," Kastner told JTA. "But I have to
go on as long as it is necessary, and as long as I can."
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AROUND THE JEWISH WORLD
Czech town explores history as
first bat mitzvah held since 1938
By Dinah A. Spritzer
names of Shoah victims to an international audience and television crews, in
a country that's not her own.
It's safe to say that Hana Pike's bat mitzvah wasn't your typical passage
Hana recited the names of the departed in
Czech town long known as the site of Napoleon's greatest military victory
But Slavkov and its 6,000 or so residents now have a modern claim to fame:
On June 4 the town hosted its first bat mitzvah since 1938.
There were a few twists, which one has to expect in a country where most of
the Jewish population was wiped out by the Holocaust. For one, Hana is
Second, the Slavkov synagogue that Hana's
restore has no regular religious services, since there's only one Jew in
The bat mitzvah was not so much a sign of things to come but a remembrance
of the town's Jewish past.
"I especially think of the former Jewish children of this town who, like me,
celebrated good times and worshipped with their parents in their synagogue
-- but who, unlike me, were deprived of celebrating their bar or bat
mitzvah," Hana said at the start of the service.
It was a Torah from Slavkov, held by the
brought the two towns together.
"To come here for my daughter's bat mitzvah was extremely special," said
Hana's father, Neil Pike. "Not just a historic occasion in her life, but in
the context of the town.
"To see 90-year old Erik Stracht," a Czech native now
"after the service embrace Hana, who was named after his 6-year-old niece
who died in
The 24 members of the Nottingham Progressive Jewish Congregation who came to
wish Hana the best were not strangers to Slavkov.
In fact, they've been bombarded with information about the town since 1990,
when Neil Pike discovered that the congregation's Torah scroll originated in
Like more than 1,000 other congregations around the
received a Torah on permanent loan from the Memorial Scrolls Trust in
1,500 Czech scrolls that were discovered in the basement
synagogue in the early 1960s.
Unable to speak Czech, Pike felt stymied in his search -- until an article
in the magazine of another British congregation piqued his interest.
It turned out that author Erik Stracht, whose mother and many relatives had
come from Slavkov, was the only member of his family to make it alive out of
In 1990 Stracht went back to the area for the first time since before World
War II. He discovered Slavkov's only remaining Jew, Ruth Matiovska, 74, and
Ruth's former schoolteacher, a non-Jew dedicated to chronicling the town's
history, including that of the 90 Jews who lived there before the war.
Through extensive research and letter writing, Pike, Stracht, Matiovska and
the former schoolteacher discovered the fate of the Austerlitz Jews, which
camps they died in or where they might have fled to.
They also gained the interest of those related in some way to the town's
previous Jewish residents, re-establishing links that had been cut by Nazism
The fruit of their efforts is "The Jews of Austerlitz," a book in English
But that wasn't enough for Pike. After his first visit to the town in 1994,
he raised funds for the placement of a memorial stone outside Slavkov's
"At first the town council was not interested in bringing up matters from
the past, but when they saw that perhaps remembering Slavkov's Jewish
heritage might attract more visitors, they began to change," he said.
Change was much needed, according to Stracht, who describes what he found in
"To my surprise the old synagogue was in a neglected state and was used as a
furniture store. There was not a single sign in the town that referred to
its Jewish citizens who had perished in the Holocaust, including my
grandmother and two cousins."
After the initial push from Pike and Stracht, the town awakened to its
Children who didn't even know what the Holocaust was suddenly were given
first-hand accounts in the classroom by Matiovska, Holocaust studies were
introduced in high school, along with general lessons on tolerance and the
perils of racism.
students at the Slavkov high school; each year, the winner receives a
members of the congregation read aloud the names of the
children who died in the Holocaust.
"This helps these kids realize what the 6 million means much more than any
book or lecture," Pike said.
Pike also commissioned a play about
actors under the eye of a professional director.
The play, the "Austerlitz Scroll," which focuses on the town's Jewish
citizens and particularly Matiovska, was translated into Czech and performed
by high school students on the day of Hana's bat mitzvah.
Still, Pike wasn't satisfied: Here was this empty synagogue, dating to 1867,
that needed restoration. The town needed little convincing and came up with
its own plan to renovate the synagogue, with the support of the district
Another historic site, the town's Jewish school, was reopened on the day of
Hana's bat mitzvah as a center or exhibitions on Jewish life.
Following Slavkov's projects with the
interest in Jewish subjects has become "enormous," town administrator Pavel
Dvorak said. He said he has been flooded with calls from people wanting to
visit the Jewish school.
He noted that 60 people from the area were invited to Hana's bat mitzvah,
but more than 120 showed up. The bat mitzvah attracted
the BBC and Czech Television covered the celebration.
Meanwhile, the celebration also marked a turning point for Matiovska, now a
member of the
"It's important for people today to know what happened in the past, about
the Holocaust," Matiovska said, "but also about Jewish culture -- and that
is why having a bat mitzvah in this town means so much."
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ARTS & CULTURE
Exhibit on Polish city's Jewish past
reverberates beyond museum walls
By Carolyn Slutsky
population, is taking on a life of its own.
"Coexistence, Holocaust, Memory" opened last spring displaying photographs
and stories depicting pre-war Jewish life in
of World War II was home to 30,000 Jews, or about a third of the city's
Just 37 Jews live in
After a successful run in
viewed the exhibit, it moved to
Historical Institute last fall.
But the effect of the photographs and the stories they told did not stop at
the museum doors.
Anna Maciejowska, principal of
Arts, saw the original exhibit and wanted to find a way to incorporate its
lessons into students' art projects.
Maciejowska decided to involve her students in their own multidisciplinary
exhibit, called "From the Inspiration of Jewish Culture." The show opened
this month at the National Library in
Approximately 250 students from the school viewed the
and studied artists such as Chagall and Bruno Schulz, producing artworks
ranging from paintings and photographs to collages, sculptures, linoleum
prints, jewelry and metal bas relief carvings.
Students also studied the work of famous Polish Jewish and Israeli writers
such as Julian Tuwim, Henryk Grynberg and Amos Oz, and created small books
illustrated with the writers' words in Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish.
Szymon Szurmiej, longtime director of the Yiddish
Many of the students were reluctant to speak about their projects,
preferring to let their work speak for itself.
Katarzyna Polus, who made a painting based on a photograph she found of an
old Jewish building, said she read Singer stories, histories and other texts
to prepare for the project.
"I know more than I knew, and I know I'll try to have more contact with
Jewish things in the future," she said.
Justyna Rumik, who designed and crafted a pair of earrings subtly shaped
like a Jewish star, said she was "fascinated with the delicacy of Jewish
ornaments" and had read and heard lectures about Jewish history.
A friend of Rumik's said the project had helped him discover his Jewish
His great-grandfather died in Treblinka and his grandparents had taught him
bit by bit about what it means to be Jewish, said the student, who declined
to give his name.
Maciejowska's daughter, Julia, said she always remembered her mother being
interested in Judaism. During the course of the project, Maciejowska
realized she was interested in Jewish history not only as an observer, but
that she also was on a quest for her roots.
She now is proud to say that she is one-eighth Jewish, a fact she sensed but
never confirmed until the exhibit shed light on the Jewish background of her
city and -- as she began to do research -- on her own Jewish heritage.
In November, "Coexistence, Holocaust, Memory" will come
of Jewish Heritage in
It also will make stops at
Maria, home to the oldest Polish community in
Interest in things Jewish among Poles has grown in recent years. In fact,
for many Poles, Jewish history and culture are a fascinating part of the
country's past that they have had the chance to explore freely only in the
past 15 years.
Until World War II,
consisted of all kinds of Jews from Orthodox to secular, a well-respected
Jewish high school, Jewish artists and workers.
The Nazis invaded in September 1939 and built the Hasag concentration camp.
Most of the town's Jews perished there or were sent from there to Treblinka.
Sigmund Rolat, a
the Holocaust, was a co-creator and sponsor of the exhibition, along with
his cousin, Alan Silberstein, who was born in a Displaced Persons camp in
Europe but raised in the
after the war.
Rolat had returned to
Recently, after scaling back his business, he found himself with more time
and wanted to reconnect with his hometown, he told JTA.
Since the exhibit opened last year, he said, "I now spend 95 percent of my
time on these projects."
Piotr Stasiak, a longtime friend of Rolat's from
which later leads to commitment.
"They do this not because of their roots but because of their hearts," he
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