The Center for International Relations Foundation is creating a project telling the stories of Poles of Jewish descent and of Jews of Polish origin who are improving the world. These contemporary figures express themselves in art, business, music, medicine, education, literature and other fields. They often work on a microscale as agents of change, seeking to make the world a better place to live in as well as breaking stereotypes and providing fresh and unique outlook on the common heritage of both nations.
These are people who care. They care about the world, they are conscious of and want to be involved with those around them, and they want to make a difference to the lives of others.
Antonina Samecka, the founder of the fashion house “Risk Made in Warsaw”, who uses Jewish motifs in her designs, which are taking Warsaw by storm. “I’m no stranger to chutzpah. It works very well in combination with Polish courage”, she says.
Partaking in the project is Katka Reszke, the author of “The Return of the Jew”, the first monographic study of the identity of the third generation of Polish Jews says: “We feel most Jewish in Poland. Against this landscape. All the challenges make me feel more Jewish here than anywhere else”.
Mikołaj Trzaska, a jazz musician who states that his avant-garde music is imbued with spirituality which he garners from the Jewish tradition. “If people can talk about difficult things, it means that they are really close”, remarks Trzaska.
Betty Q, a Jewish burlesque performer who upholds body positiveness, is also involved in the project. “I use the fact that people recognize me to talk to them about seemingly controversial matters, and to clarify them. For example, the term ‘Jewess’”, says Betty.
“One cannot think about the future without knowing what happened in the past. Changes take place thanks to ordinary people and their people-to-people talk” says Dr. Lea Ganor, the founder of the Mashmaut Centre and another participant in the project, who was recently awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Over the past few months, the creators of the project have met with dozens of representatives of both communities, mostly in Poland and Israel, listening to their stories and experiences. Many of them can be met on the dedicated website www.people2people.site, which is continuously updated with new entries, stories and characters.
“This idea was born during our study trip to Israel, three years ago, when we met the Israeli start-up ecosystem” – says CIR’s President, Ms. Małgorzata Bonikowska, PhD. “We were impressed by the number of Israeli innovations that have a distinctly humanitarian purpose. We realized what makes Israeli startups so successful – is also the desire to touch people’s lives and improve the world, embodying the ancient idea of Tikkun Olam (world improvement), which is rewritten today in a way relevant to the modern world.”
Center for International Relations (https://csm.org.pl), is ranked among the top think-tanks in Central and Eastern Europe, and for the last 20 years is involved in promoting democracy, EU values and fighting fake news.