• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


  • NEWS

  • 20 October 2017

    Join us for a unique conversation between people who have been creating and witnessing first-hand the revival of Jewish life and culture in Poland after the fall of Communism. “Poland 1989. The Renaissance begins” will be presented as a part of the 37th Neuberger Holocaust Education Week on Saturday, November 4 at Innis Town Hall in Toronto.

    Having changed the course of history, 1989 marked a pivotal moment for Polish-Jewish history. As the Communist system started to crumble in Europe, the forbidden memory of Jewish Poland soon resurfaced. In less than 30 years, an  unprecedented revival of Jewish life and  culture began to unfold in Poland,  along with an open dialogue on the complicated subject of Polish-Jewish relations.

    “Poland 1989. The Renaissance begins” will feature Marek Zając, Secretary of the International Auschwitz Council, Eli Rubenstein, National Director of the March of the Living Canada, Jonathan Ornstein, Director of the Jewish Community Centre of Kraków, with the special participation of Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich. The event will be hosted by Franklin Bialystok, Professor of Modern Jewish History, University College, University of Toronto.

    The program is presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto and March of the Living Canada within the framework of the 37th Neuberger Holocaust Education Week, that examines this year the post-Holocaust period, and the specific events that have shaped our understanding of the Holocaust.



    “Poland 1989. The Renaissance begins”
    with Marek Zając, Eli Rubenstein, Jonathan Ornstein and with special participation of Michael Schudrich, hosted by Franklin Bialystok
    Saturday, November 4, 7:30pm
    Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave, Toronto
    Admission free. Seating limited. Doors open at 7pm



    Marek Zając is a Polish journalist specializing in religion and social issues, secretary of the International Auschwitz Council since 2006 and Council Chair of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation since 2015.
    He was born in 1979 in Krakow and completed journalism studies at the Jagiellonian University. He has worked for the weeklies Tygodnik Powszechny and Przekrój as well  the daily Polska The Times. His articles have been published broadly both in Polish and international media. He has also worked for the Polish public television and cooperated with several radio stations.  Zając was awarded the Bishop Jan Chrapek Prize for journalists in 2006 and decorated with  the Silver Cross of Merit in recognition of his services to Poland in 2012.


    Eli Rubenstein is a Holocaust educator, storyteller, writer and filmmaker, religious leader of Congregation Habonim Toronto, and National Director of March of the Living Canada.
    He was born in Toronto in 1959, earned a degree in Humanities from York University, and also studied at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, California, and the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
    He has led Congregation Habonim Toronto, the first synagogue in Canada founded by Holocaust survivors, since 1988, the very same year he became involved with March of the Living in Canada. He co-founded the March of Remembrance and Hope (MRH), an education program for university students. He also co-launched March of the Living Digital Archive Project to record testimonies of Canadian Holocaust survivors.

    Eli Rubenstein was awarded the Canadian Jewish Book Award for his 1994 work For You Who Died I Must Live On: Reflections on the March of the Living. In 2008, he received the Ve’ahavta Tikkun Olam Education Award.


    Jonathan Ornstein is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center in Kraków and founder of the “Gesher” association for Polish–Israeli dialogue.
    Born in 1970 in New York City, he moved to Israel in 1994, where he spent seven years living on a kibbutz and two years serving in the military. In 2001, he moved to Łódź, Poland, but soon relocated to Kraków and became a lecturer in Modern Hebrew at the Jagiellonian University, a position he held for six years. He then joined the Jewish Community Center, open in 2008, which goal is to take care of the Holocaust survivors living in Krakow, to engage Poles who discover their Jewish roots and to serve as a visitor center for Jews from around the world.


    Michael Schudrich is the Chief Rabbi of Poland, member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the Conference of European Rabbis.
    Born in New York City in 1955, he graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, majoring in Religious Studies, in 1977 and went on to receive an MA degree in History from Columbia University in 1982. He obtained his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. After serving as rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan in 1983-1989, he joined the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, a non-profit promoting Jewish education in Central and Eastern Europe.
    He moved to Warsaw in 1992 and in 2000 he was appointed the Rabbi of Warsaw and Łódź. He has served as Chief Rabbi of Poland since 2004, representing Poland’s Jewish community before the Polish government and the Catholic Church. He is widely recognized for his role in the revival of Jewish life in Poland and in promoting dialogue between the religions. He oversees Jewish day schools and summer camps, and works to preserve Jewish mass grave sites.
    In 2016, Rabbi Schudrich was instrumental in arranging a meeting between Pope Francis and 25 Poles recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” for saving Jews during the Holocaust.


    Franklin Bialystok, PhD, is professor of Modern Jewish History, University College, University of Toronto., Holocaust educator, Chair of Canadian Jewish Congress-Ontario Region and Vice-President of the Association of Canadian Jewish Studies.
    Franklin Bialystok was born in Poland in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1947. He taught history at North Toronto Collegiate for 15 years before obtaining his MA degree from York University in 1987, then worked as visiting scholar at Oxford University for two years and returned to York University to earn a doctor’s degree in 1997. He has lectured at universities in eight countries and contributed numerous articles on the Holocaust to various academic publications. His doctoral dissertation, Delayed Impact: The Holocaust and the Canadian Jewish Community, published in 2000, won the Tannenbaum Prize in Canadian Jewish History and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in non-fiction.

    As part of his involvement with the Jewish community, Dr. Bialystok served as chair of the Education Committee of the Toronto Holocaust Centre and of the Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation of Canada, for which he was awarded the Cavalier's Cross of the Order of Poland. He has also been engaged in initiatives promoting peace and fighting racism.

    He is also the author of Settlement, Adaptation, Diversity: A History of Canada's Jews, published in 2011.

    Poland 1989 HEW

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