A brand new “People to People” project, telling the stories of Poles of Jewish descent and of Jews of Polish origin. These 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. This is a unique mixture of personalities with one defining common factor – 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, as well as reconnect the new with the old.
The Center for International Relations Foundation (CIR), ranked among the top think-tanks in Central and Eastern Europe is shaping the P2P project. Over the past few months, the creators of the project have met with dozens of people of both communities, mostly in Poland and Israel, listening to their stories and experiences.
Rebel Hearts are improving the world
Majority of the figures partaking in the project are closely related to culture, art and literature. Józef Hen, a renowned Polish writer with Jewish origin active since the 1930s’, whose heritage is a primary topic of many of his autobiographical works, and an author of novels and journals translated to 21 languages and given many film adaptations; or Roma Ligocka, writer, artist, Holocost survivor, based in Krakow, “the girl in the red coat” from Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List; or maybe Katka Reszke, a researcher of Jewish culture and identity and the author of “Return of the Jew” – the first monographic study of the identity of the third generation of Jews in Poland after the Holocaust.
It is an unpredictable and astonishing journey. During these conversations we have uncovered a variety of definitions of the Jewish identity and of the Polish one. Common to these personalities is a sensitivity to the modern world and the will to improve it, drawing on the unique DNA created by the shared European heritage of both nations. These are people who can inspire others, not only from a Polish-Jewish perspective, but also from a broader humanitarian one. Every one of these stories can easily be the subject of an entire book.
Ms. Małgorzata Bonikowska, PhD.
The form of the project allows you to meet the showcased personas online even in thedifficult pandemic reality – you can find them on the website: www.people2people.site.
The website, designed as a meeting place with the people represented in the project, is continuously updated with new entries, stories and characters. Beside still active figures, our website also has a memorial section, presenting the achievements and legacy of the recently deceased, whose impact on both nations cannot be understated. Project goes back to Jadwiga Grabowska, the creator of the most important fashion brand in post-war Poland, often called Polish Coco Chanel; Krystyna Skarbek – an intelligence agent and the original James Bond; Irena Szewińska, a Polish athlete, setter of the world records in female sprints, and a member of the international Jewish Sports Hall of Fame; Fania Lewando, a proprietor of a popular vegetarian restaurant in pre-war Warsaw, now rediscovered by contemporary chefs. In P2P project you can also find some of Tikkunology team!
People2People is creating by The Center for International Relations Foundation, an independent, non-governmental think tank which deals with international policy issues, as well as Polish foreign and European policy. Other partners include Rechters Agency, the Tikkunology Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland and the Embassy of Israel in Poland.