Walking tour of Warsaw, 2017.

Hornstein Seminar to Poland 2017
Day Two, Warsaw

 Jewish Warsaw

By Daniel Larson

The Hornstein Class of 2017 experienced a jam-packed second day in Warsaw. Kicking off the day was a fascinating meeting with Konstanty Gebert, a Polish Jewish journalist and community activist who framed contemporary Jewish life in Poland, and specifically in Warsaw, for the group. He spoke about the evolution of Jewish communal life in the post-Holocaust period under communism, and how that life manifested under changing Polish state policies and relations with Israel.

After our session with Mr. Gebert, the group went on a guided walking tour through the area of the Warsaw Ghetto with Aleksandra Engler-Malinowska of the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland. While obvious traces of the Ghetto are hard to find, the group did visit one of the last remaining Ghetto walls, which has become a memorial to the memory of those who lived and died in the Ghetto during the Holocaust. Through looking at contemporary street scenes and historical photographs, the group got a clearer sense of what the city looked like during that time period, and the way in which the Nazis hid the Jewish population away, while remaining in plain sight.

Plaque in Warsaw commemorates the Jewish Ghetto.

After lunch, the group met with Weronika Czyzewska of Menora Info Punkt, a Polish cultural organization dedicated to innovative Jewish programs that engage with the broader Polish public. The group learned and sang a traditional Polish village song, and wrapped up the day with a visit to the Warsaw JCC. There, we met with Agata Rakowiecka, the director of the JCC, who told us about the kind of outreach programs they operate, and the role of the JCC in bringing Jewish involvement to a community that has not always felt comfortable proclaiming its Jewishness publicly in the post-war period.

More wonderful experiences are just around the corner for the group, as we continue discovering more and more about the changing nature of contemporary Jewish life in Poland.

Hornstein students visit JCC Warsaw, 2017.

In February 2017, the Hornstein Class of 2017 traveled to Poland with Professor Leonard Saxe for an eight-day seminar to study contemporary Jewish life in that country. This is a blog post from that seminar written by a student or pair of students.

This year's seminar was supported, in part, by the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry and the Center for German and European Studies, both at Brandeis University.

For more photos, see our photo album at our Facebook page.