Since the life of young diarist Rywka Lipszyc, Poland has undergone tremendous loss, upheaval and change. The Holocaust saw the annihilation of three million Polish Jews - 90 percent of the pre-WWII population. The defeat of the Germans ended one occupation and ushered in over four decades of Soviet dominance and imposed Communist rule. The atrocities of the past, a desire to rebuild, and a fierce drive to strengthen sovereignty have left Poland dealing with a crisis of identity, and more recently, grappling with the paradox of history and those who would rewrite it. Today, Poland is undergoing a miraculous renewal of Jewish life, with Krakow at the vanguard, while simultaneously seeing a controversial growth in Polish nationalist politics.
Join Jonathan Ornstein, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, and Dr. Neal Pease, History Professor at UW-Milwaukee who specializes in Poland, as they discuss and highlight the conditions present in contemporary Poland which make the Jewish rebirth and rise of nationalism possible.
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This program is free and open to the public.
Suggested donation $5: https://jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/donate/
About Jonathan Ornstein
Since its opening in April 2008 by HRH, The Prince of Wales, Jonathan has served as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, an organization devoted to rebuilding Jewish life in Krakow. The JCC boasts over 750 Jewish members, welcomes 10,000 visitors a month and has become one of Poland’s most visible signs of Jewish revival.
Prior to the JCC’s opening in 2008, he lectured in Modern Hebrew at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University Department of Jewish Studies for 6 years and founded the “Gesher” association for Polish-Israeli dialogue. A native of New York City, Jonathan moved to Israel in 1994, living for 7 years on a kibbutz in the Negev desert and served in a combat unit in the I.D.F. before making his way to Poland in 2001.
He is a founding member of “Przymierze,” the Krakow Association of Christians and Jews where he serves as vice president. He also serves on the boards of the Krakow branch of the Child Survivors of the Holocaust organization and JCC Global.
Jonathan, a primary architect of Poland’s contemporary Jewish rebirth, is a frequent international lecturer on issues relating to Jewish Poland.
About Neal Pease
Neal Pease is professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research and publication focus is modern Polish and Central European history. His book, Rome’s Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland (Ohio University Press, 2009) won separate awards in the United States as best book of the year in the field of Polish studies, and best book of the year in the field of the history of Catholicism. He is vice president of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, and editor emeritus of its journal, The Polish Review. He is vice president and past president of the Polish American Historical Association. At UWM, he serves on both the Polish Studies and Jewish Studies faculty committees.
In connection with The Girl in the Diary: Searching for Rywka from the Łódź Ghetto, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, January 24 – May 17, 2020.