"The Jews of Częstochowa - Coexistence, Holocaust, Memory"

How It Began

Following its opening during our First World Society Reunion in April 2004 in Częstochowa, the Exhibition went on show in Poland’s capital, Warsaw in the following October. A travelling version of the Exhibition subsequently visited cities in the United States of America and in Canada.

The full exhibition then temporarily went into storage until it found a permanent home in the Jewish Museum of Częstochowa at ul. Katedralna 8.

The original idea of creating such an exhibition came from a granddaughter of Rabbi Nachum Asz (a leader of the Jewish community of Częstochowa in the early 1900’s), Professor Elizabeth Mundlak, who had for years been active in the Polish Association of the Children of the Holocaust. Her idea was supported by Prof. Dr. hab. Jerzy Mizgalski, a historian and a former Vice-Chancellor of the Jan Długosz University of Częstochowa.

The Exhibition traces the history of Częstochowa’s Jewish community, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, through the tragic years of WWII, to the post-War period. The many photographs and precious objects come from state and private collections, both from Poland and abroad.

Numerous photographs are reprints from Czenstochower Yidn published in New York in 1947. The Exhibition includes documentary films based on the memories of Holocaust survivors Sigmund A Rolat and Elizabeth Mundlak, as well as many others.

Funded by Sigmund Rolat and Alan Silberstein, the Exhibition was put together utilising the resources of the Pedagogical Institute of Częstochowa, the Częstochowa Municipal Archives and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

From the Exhibition’s Sponsor, Sigmund A. Rolat ….

I was a Pole whose religion happened to be Jewish. And then came the rude awakening. During the War, the Germans declared Jews to be “Untermenschen” and our Polish compatriots, with some notable exceptions, were passive or worse.

The horrors continued after the War. In 1946, there was the Kielce pogrom and random violence in other places. In 1968 – the coup de grace – Poland lost her Jews as a result of the communist government’s so-called “Anti-Zionist Campaign”.

I was lucky to have immigrated to the USA where I proved, as millions before and after me have done, what America is all about. A young, penniless, orphaned boy, willing to apply himself, can receive the best education, prosper in business and secure a solid place in society for his family. Only in America!

But my roots are here, I am a Jew from Częstochowa. I wish my city well. May it prosper and grow.

I salute all those wonderful people who turned a wish into a reality starting with Prof.Berdowski, Prof.Mizgalski and former City Mayor Tadeusz Wrona.

I am grateful to Elizabeth Mundlak Asch, Elżbieta Surma-Jończyk, Janusz Jadczyk, Jan Jagielski, Ireneusz Kozera, Prof.Jarosław Kweclich, Prof.Tadeusz Panecki, Mark Shraberman, Dr.Dove B.Schmorak and especially to my dear Piotr Stasiak for their untiring work and countless hours. My cousin, Alan Silberstein, and I are proud to be part of this distinguished team.

I trust that all who view the Exhibition, and the book that depicts its exhibits, old and young – especially the young – will shed a tear for the once-vibrant community that is now reduced to a tiny handful.