Monday, 13 May 2013 09:15

Sukkat Shalom in Kielce 2012

adam3_maleProject report – January 2013

Prepared by Avigail Moshe

General Background

ADAM le’ADAM: Israeli-Polish Education-Encounter aims to promote novel identity-forming encounters for young Israelis with Poland, Poles and Poland’s Jewish past and present life. ADAM le’ADAM’s main mission is to enable young Israelis, through these encounters, to supplement their self-concept as victims and their one-dimensional view of Poland and the Poles. They might, then, open up to the Polish discourse on the Holocaust. We believe that the more Israelis undergo this process, the better - for them, for Israeli society and for the remembrance of the Holocaust.

ADAM le’ADAM offers educational programs, seminars, events, study tours, and volunteering projects. These programs are all based on encounters of young Israelis and Poles as part of a significant stay in Poland. All the programs include intensive pre-travel preparation meetings and activities. These meetings provide participants with an environment to examine their assumptions and conceptions of Poland and Poles and the role the Holocaoust plays  in these attitudes. Avigail Moshe, Founder and Director of ADAM le’ADAM, has expertise in inter-cultural and inter-religious encounters and is  certificated to guide tours to Poland.

micghalowski_maleDear Organizers and Participants of the 66th anniversary of the pogrom in Kielce,

 

The Menorah Monument in Kielce - which is dedicated to the memory of the Kieltzer Jews murdered by the Nazis during the Second Word War - has an unusual shape. This sculpture is thought provoking. Passing by it one could surmise its meaning and symbolic. The half of the candlestick sticks in the ground and it is sloped. It symbolizes what happened to the Jewish culture and traditions during the Shoah.

 

Before the outbreak of the Second World War one of three residents of Kielce was of the Jewish origin. Here the Jewish trade and industry developed, the synagogue was build. Till today one can notice the remains of the Jewish culture – for instance the trace of the mezuzah in the door-post, the apartment house where before the war a Jewish family lived, the Jewish house of Prayer of Herszel Zagajski. The Jewish residents of the town – a highly respected merchant Mojżesz Pfeffer, Eli Rebełe who prayed so ardently that ordinary Jews thought he was almost a tsadik and Hanka Goldszajd who wrote the letters from the ghetto – they all remain in our memories.

bekkierMr. Mayor, members of the clergy, distinguished guests and friends, I am here today, representing the descendents of the once thriving Jewish community of Kielce that have their home in the U.S. This is my first time here. I carry with me a painful legacy.

 

My parents, like so many Jewish survivors, could never bring themselves to return, although a number of them did come to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the pogrom. For them Poland will forever remain a huge unmarked graveyard soaked with the blood of their families. My father was born in Bialogon, lived here in Kielce and worked in our family’s tannery. My father lost his entire family, including his wife and 4 yr old son, who were deported from the Kielce ghetto August 22, 1942 and sent to Treblinka, where they were immediately murdered.

 

When the war ended, those that somehow managed to survive the Nazi death camps, were liberated. The enemy was defeated but hatred and intolerance towards Jews, were not defeated. Sadly, prejudice and hostility remained.

 

glenn_maleAugust 18, 2010 Bogdan Bialek

President of Jan Karski Society

Kielce, Poland

 

Dear Mr. Bogdan,

 

On behalf of the Kieltzer Society of New York, I wish to thank you and Mr. Wojciech Lubawski, the Mayor of the city of Kielce, for your very strong and enthusiastic support in making this commemoration such a moving and significant event. Without your active encouragement and participation, this would memorial would not have happened.

 

That the pogrom lasted an entire day in a large urban center and hundreds of Poles of all ages and economic backgrounds join in should never be forgotten. Men in uniform lured the Jews out of their barricaded homes and handed them over to the mob.

 

One of the most important Catholic writers of this century warned that when we view the Nazi murderers as insane or inherently evil, this leads to the false belief that ordinary people could never have committed such horrible crimes. The real horror, however, is that those who participated in this pogrom were not insane or suffered from some mental disease. They were ordinary people.

 

schudrichI was glad to read Richard Cohen’s „What Helen Thomas missed”, setting the record straight on why Jews could not, after WWII, just „go back to Poland” and elsewhere in Central Europe, as the veteran White House correspondent had suggested. I was dismayed, however, to see Cohen qualify the violence against the Jews there at that time as “a mini-Holocaust”.

 

The Holocaust was a once-only, stand-alone event; it does not come in different sizes. It had ended on V-E Day, with the end of the Nazi regime which had made the genocide of the Jews one of its main objectives.

 

To suggest otherwise, to refer to killings of Jews by Poles, or Slovaks and Hungarians, or by Arabs, after that date and outside the Nazi framework, as Holocaust, mini or not, unavoidably legitimizes the use of the term to refer to other mass killings.

 

If Kielce and other post-WWII murders of Jews in Poland were a “mini-Holocaust”, then surely, say, the recent mob violence in Kenya was one as well. The term “Holocaust” would then become just another synonym of not only genocide, but indeed mass murder.

kotlickiHonourable Rabbi, Honourable Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

On the fourth of July 1946 here, in Kielce, Cain killed his brother Abel – a mob of the town inhabitants killed 42 Jews.

 

The dream of Holocaust survivors about moving to the land of their fathers, and about rebuilding their lives there, was shattered to pieces. As was the dream of those who wanted to revive Jewish life in Poland, against all odds. Tragic was the end to the magnificent one thousand year history of Polish Jewry.

 

The funeral was attended by thousands of people of Kielce, speeches were delivered, laments were raised to heavens, strong accusations were made, words of condemnation were said about the Church, “shady characters”, or “forces of black reaction”. Caddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, was said, and when cantor Mosze Kosowicki began singing “El Male Rachamim” (Merciful God) – clouds covered the sky and heavy rain fell, as if He Himself, Blessed be His Name, wept over the sorrowful fate of Polish Jews. Only 34 of the 42 men, women, children, and infants killed were identified. The others were buried nameless – including a man known only by the number tattooed by the Nazis in Auschwitz: B2969.

 

b.bialekWhat news will be reported by the different media today? What else will there be reported about, apart from the regular breaking news, without which the media would be like a soup lacking salt?

 

I ask this question because I know that the day reported in black on the white pages of newspapers, and presented in all possible colours on the screens of our TV sets, is not just a description of an unimaginably tiny fragment of reality. These different news reports will not, however, include an answer to the most important question, namely where do the actual changes take place in this world? Changes that deeply transform a society. Something that either paralyses or inspires us. Something that can either spark a war or prevent it. Something that either destroys hope or offers it. Does the essence of things appear in the news? Can it at all appear there?

 

And here, today, we are actually touching the essence of things, we are within the essence of things. We have spun the thread of memory across our city – from the Menora monument commemorating the life and annihilation of the Jews of Kielce, to the tombstone on the collective grave of our dear deceased, whose life has been taken away by our neighbours, co-inhabitants, compatriots, perhaps our friends, or perhaps our forefathers. This thread was spun by a handful of people, private persons, Poles and Jews. We, who have participated in this endeavour, are aware that this is a very significant event, not only for this moment, but for many generations to come. Let each one interpret it as they like.

 

amir_webWhen I left for a five-day journey as part of the ICCI delegation to Poland, I was quite aware of the Sisyphean effort made by clergymen and intellectuals in Poland to delve into the memory of the destroyed Jewish communities.

 

I have been exposed in the past to—and even took part in—the effort to rebuild the Jewish communities and allow a rich and meaningful Jewish life for Jews, half-Jews and persons related to Judaism in Poland. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong.

 

My experiences in Lublin, Kielce and Warsaw were meaningful, deep and far more emotional than I could have imagined. The unmediated encounter with the Archbishop of Lublin and his companions was not an interreligious encounter in the usual sense. It was a meeting of men of truth, who seek to carefully and determinedly build together a bridge over a terrible open chasm, to aid in mitigating the pain of a terrible blow that will never stop hurting. To walk with them in Majdanek, to stand with them at the entrance to the gas chambers... this was aunique experience even for someone like me, who already knew the place and visited it with members of different religions and peoples.

 

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