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Jewish Life in Poland: An Enduring Legacy

  • University of San Francisco 2130 Fulton St San Francisco, CA

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FIVE LOCAL SCHOLARS SHARE FILM, MUSIC, HISTORICAL DISCOVERIES AND CULTURAL EXPERIENCES FROM A SUMMER IN POLAND  

FIVE LOCAL SCHOLARS SHARE FILM, MUSIC, HISTORICAL DISCOVERIES

AND CULTURAL EXPERIENCES FROM A SUMMER IN POLAND

 

Mordechai Gebirtig and the Perseverance of Jewish Culture in Yiddish Song

Facilitator: Jim McGarry

Gebirtig's Yiddish lyrics and memorable tunes accompanied the Jews of Krakow on the increasingly difficult journey from one World War to the next. His lullabies were sung by parents to children at bedtime, his ballads were performed on the Yiddish stage and whistled in the streets, his songs always chronicling life's struggle with poverty, hunger, violence and despair. Gebirtig's art has crossed borders, passed through war and is remembered today as a potent musical clarion call to pride and truth and survival.

 

Back from his second trip to Poland, Jim McGarry, a long-time educator in Ethics, Social Justice and Holocaust Studies is the Director of the Sr. Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.

Looking Back Is Looking Forward – Holocaust Education in Today’s Poland

Facilitator: Dr. Benjamin Owens

What is the challenge and what is the power of Holocaust education taking place in Poland today?  How does the enduring legacy of Jewish life in Poland express itself with renewed vision and voice in the context of teaching about the Holocaust in Poland itself?  Looking back does not stop at the gates of Auschwitz.  Remembering breathes new life into the future.   This workshop is an invitation to remember the past for the sake of what lies ahead.

Dr. Benjamin Owens has been a recipient of both Tauber Philanthropic Fund and Taube Study Seminar grants for work in Israel at Yad Vashem in 2012 and in Poland in 2015.  He is currently Chair of the Department of Theology and teaches at Woodside Priory in Portola Valley, CA.

Encounters with Commemorative Space in Poland: An Exploration of How We Experience Jewish Sites and Museums

Facilitators:  Rabbi Batshir Torchio and Maia Ipp

In this session, Rabbi Torchio and Maia Ipp will encourage participants to examine their own experiences of commemorative spaces and museums. Presenting some of the innovative examples of museums and "activations" of Jewish space and culture in Poland today, we will open the discussion for a critical examination of how these and other commemorative spaces function. Questions to consider: How might meaningful interactions happen within static spaces? Can these sites offer opportunities for healing, or should they serve principally to educate and inform? We'll explore these and other questions together.  

Maia Ipp is Associate Director of Creative Writing at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. Over the last several years Maia has spent extended periods in Poland, Lithuania, and Germany, researching and interviewing individuals and organizations involved in Jewish heritage and dialogue initiatives. Here in the Bay Area she co-facilitates a group for descendants of Holocaust survivors and works with Armand Volkas’s Healing the Wounds of History project.

Rabbi Torchio is a senior educator at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, and privately an officiant of life cycles events. She teaches a number of classes on Jewish Spirituality and Jewish texts throughout the Bay Area. Born in New York, Rabbi Torchio made pilgrimage to the West Coast over 20 years ago where she and her partner, Dean have raised two children. They are also the proud parents of a rescue pup named Indy.

Jewish Youth Movements in Poland Between the Wars: Engaged and Empowered

Facilitator: Mark Davis

The 1920s and '30s was a dynamic period of cultural growth among the Jewish youth in Poland. Jewish youth groups – from religious to political to athletic to intellectual – served a powerful role in developing a generation of men and women who later would become survivors and community, even national, leaders. In this workshop, we draw from existing research as well as new discoveries from POLIN, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, to study and celebrate these groups and individuals.

Mark Davis is a Museum Teacher Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Tauber Teaching Fellow, and recipient of a Taube Study Seminar grant to travel to Krakow and Warsaw, with a special research focus on Jewish life in Poland between the wars. Currently he is Director of Humanities at Monterey Coast Preparatory in Scotts Valley, CA.