Screening of "POLMISSION - Passports' Secrets"

Events

November 2, 2023

On Thursday, 2nd November 2023, in conjunction with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Australia, the Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants (ASPJ) was extremely pleased to host the screening of “Polmission – Passports’s Secrets” at the newly-renovated Melbourne Holocaust Museum.

The event took place in the presence of the new Polish Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Maciej Chmieliski, the Victorian Deputy Leader of the Opposition and MLA for Caulfield, Mr David Southwick, Consuls-General and Consuls representing thirteen countries, the Presidents of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Polish Community Council of Victoria, as well as other dignitaries and guests.

In welcoming those in attendance, particularly the Polish Ambassador, whom the ASPJ was honoured to host on his first and only engagement on his first trip to Melbourne, ASPJ President Ezra May stated that the underlying central message of the film was for people not to remain silent and to take action to assist others in need. He said that, unfortunately, this was no longer just an interesting or inspiring historical story, but was now more relevant than ever, considering the current threats faced by Israel and Jewish communities worldwide – including in Melbourne.

Ambassador Chmieliński then provided an overview of the the long intertwined history of Jews in Poland and highlighted some of the efforts undertaken by some Polish diplomats in order to save Jews during, the Holocaust.

On behalf of the President of the Republic of Poland, the Ambassador then presented Mrs Rachel Kelman with the Cross of Siberian Exiles in recognition of the World War II experiences of her parents. Mrs Kelman responded by recounting a brief overview of her parents’ experience, as Polish Jews, of having been exiled to Siberia by the Russians,  before her father was conscripted into the Russian Army and was then killed in action during the liberation of Poland.

Following the screening of the film, the evening concluded with remarks from David Southwick MP, who emphasised the need to for other communities to stand up when Israel and the Victorian Jewish community was under threat.

To view the video of the event, click on the link below.


Spring 2023 Issue of HAYNT Out Now!

Events

October 5, 2023

HAYNT is the magazine of the Australian Society of Polish Jews and Their Descendants.

It is published three times annually and features articles on the ASPJ’s events and other activities, as well as articles on Polish-Jewish issues in Australia and Poland.

Click HERE to read this current issue!


Autumn 2023 Issue of HAYNT Out Now!

Events

April 20, 2023

HAYNT is the magazine of the Australian Society of Polish Jews and Their Descendants.

It is published three times annually and features articles on the ASPJ’s events and other activities, as well as articles on Polish-Jewish issues in Australia and Poland.

Click HERE to read this current issue!


ASPJ Genealogy Open Days 2023

Events

April 2, 2023

Four years after the ASPJ’s first such event in Melbourne, this time, in 2023, our ASPJ Genealogy Open Days were held in both Sydney (28th March at the Sydney Jewish Museum) and Melbourne (1st April at the new Melbourne Holocaust Museum). Again, this year, our special guest was, Polish genealogist and historian, Michał Majewski.

Having worked for the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland and with the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, at both events, Michał provided the audiences with valuable information about resources available to further their own family’s genealogical history.

Assistant State Manager of the National Archives of Australia in Victoria, Patrick Ferry, also gave a special presentation about the “Sponsoring the Survivors” Project.

Following Michał’s lecture and answering general questions, audience members were invited to bring their own, personal questions to representatives of several specialist organisations. The ASPJ sincerely thanks representatives of the other organisations who supported these events both in Sydney and in Melbourne.

The 2023 ASPJ Genealogy Open Days were made possible by the financial support of the


ASPJ and JCCV Hold Inaugural Circle Social Club Function

Events

November 5, 2022

The Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants and the Polish Community Council of Victoria have joined together to form the “Circle Social Club”, which will hold a series of mutually-sponsored functions.

The “Circle Social Club” was a long-term dream of previous ASPJ Past-Presidents Bernard Korbman and Izi Marmur and PCCV Past-President, the late Marian Pawlik, to host social functions and gatherings to enhance friendships between members and friends of both organisations.

The first “Circle Social Club” function, held on 5th November 2022, at the Czech Club in North Melbourne, was a night of jazz music, featuring performers Lisa Marmur, Adrian Whyte and Trent McKenzie. It was a night of music, conversation and entertainment.

Into the future, we look forward to more “Circle Social Club” functions, as well as other initiatives together with the Polish Community Council of Victoria.


Spring 2022 Issue of HAYNT Out Now!

Events

September 18, 2022

HAYNT is the magazine of the Australian Society of Polish Jews and Their Descendants.

It is published three times annually and features articles on the ASPJ’s events and other activities, as well as articles on Polish-Jewish issues in Australia and Poland.

Click HERE to read this current issue!


Vale David Prince z"l (1925-2022)

Events

September 1, 2022

It is with immense sadness that we mourn the passing of David Prince z”l – Holocaust Survivor – a founding and, until his passing, continuing member of the Board of Management of the Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants.

We invited his daughter, Frances Prince, to write a tribute to her late father on behalf of his family.

Frances Prince writes:

David Prince passed away in the early hours of Monday, 28th March 2022, with both his adult children (my older brother Issy and myself) by his side. This was a few weeks before what would have been his 97th birthday.

David was an inaugural Board Member of the ASPJ. He felt honoured to have been approached to join the organisation. He sincerely believed in its aims and aspirations.

Dad was born in Łódź, Poland, to Frymet Chaya (nee Klejnbaum) and Israel Princ. He, and his twin brother, Heniek, were born during Pesach/Passover, 1925.

They enjoyed a lower-middle class, family-oriented childhood in the heart of Jewish Łódź. In David’s words, “What were kids doing? Hanging around other kids, skating in winter, soccer in summer, running 400 metre and 800 metre races, indoor gym, chatting up girls.”

His primary education was undertaken at the Fajnhaus School at ul. Zawadska 26 and No. 123 State School 123 ul. Wolczańska 21. His one precious year of secondary education took place at the Szwajcer School. In my many conversations with Dad about his childhood and identity, he was always clear that his Jewish and Polish identities sat side-by side comfortably.

As he said, “Polish is my first language. It’s my mother tongue. We spoke Polish at home. But my grandparents spoke Yiddish to us. At school, I learnt Polish history, Polish literature, Polish geography. The books which I read as a child were all in Polish. It was a normal part of my life. Polish and Jewish – Jewish and Polish. That’s just how it was.”

On 1st September 1939, this carefree childhood ended. David was fourteen years old.  Within weeks of the German invasion of Poland, David, together with all the Jews of Łódź, was subjected to a slew of anti-Jewish laws and the enforced wearing of the blue armband and then, later, the yellow star.

When the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) Ghetto was formed, Frymet Chaya, Israel, Heniek and Dad moved into the ghetto’s designated borders in Baluty. They lived with Dad’s youngest aunt, Mala and her husband, Salek. As Dad would describe, “It was the oldest, poorest, shabbiest, and the unsewered part of town.”

Dad and his family were incarcerated in the Łódź Ghetto from the day it was “closed”, 1st May 1940 until the end of August 1944. They experienced forced labour, diminishing food supplies, unhygienic living conditions, resultant disease, and on-going violence. The transportations to the Chełno death camp claimed countless family members and friends.

Frymet Chaya, Israel, Heniek and Dad were pushed onto the very last train that left the Łódź Ghetto, the last ghetto in Europe, bound for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Upon their brutal arrival, Frymet Chaya was viciously separated from Israel, Heniek and Dad. Dad would say, “It all happened so quickly. There was no time for a motherly kiss or hug goodbye.”

After one week in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Israel, Heniek and David were placed on a train to a slave labour camp called Friedland. There, they made propeller parts for the German air force. On 8th May 1945, they were liberated.

The immediate years after the war saw Dad living in Munich as a university student, studying pharmacy. How Dad ever passed the entrance exams to the Ludwig Maximillian University- with his one year of high school education – confounded him for the rest of his life. As he often said, “How could I have ever aspired to such a thing as a university education?”

Unbeknownst to him, another survivor from Poland, Ella Salzberg, was undergoing the same grueling study regime in order to gain entrance to the same university. Dad, the pharmacy student met Mum, the dentistry student, at the Jewish Students Cafeteria. They married on 23rd December 1947.

Mum and Dad immigrated to Australia in January 1950.

Dad worked as a fitter and turner, on a lathe, in factories. This was a skill he learned in the Łódź Ghetto. His German pharmacy degree was not recognised in Australia and they did not have the finances for him to return to university. Through determination, perseverance, and hard work, Dad went back to university in the mid-1950’s to study pharmacy. He was ten years older than the rest of the students, with a wife and child, my brother, Issy. When Dad graduated, I was born.

Throughout the decades, Mum and Dad focused on building his professional, pharmacy career and on raising Issy and me. They created a loving Jewish home for the two of us. Our well- being was their priority.

Dad had a love of life and energy levels to be admired and emulated. He liked to engage with all those around him, no matter what age or generation. Always the life of the party.

His interests and passions included Yiddishkeit, an appreciation of the State of Israel, loyalty in friendship, professional excellence, integrity, service to the community, having a sense of humour, pride in a job well-done and love of family.

May his memory be for a blessing



Dariusz Popiela - 2022 ASPJ Orator & Film Premieres

Events

July 26, 2022

It is with immense pleasure that the Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants can announce that our 2022 ASPJ Oration, in Melbourne and in Sydney, will be delivered by Dariusz Popiela, Polish champion kayaker and the founder of the “People, Not Numbers” project.

Dariusz’s project researches the names of Holocaust victims, who are buried in mass graves inside cemeteries and elsewhere. Monuments are then erected bearing the names of these victims, so that their memory will live on.

Through his efforts, more than 5,000 Holocaust victims from Krościenko nad Dunajcem, Grybów, Czarny Dunajec and Nowy Targ have, thus far, been commemorated by name. For many years, Dariusz has also co-organised anniversary commemorations related to the Jewish history of his home town of Nowy Sącz.

The “People, Not Numbers” project also holds meetings with young people in schools, during which the history of the local community is presented. It conducts educational trips to the Extermination Museum at Bełżec, where young people learn the tragic history of the former inhabitants of their town, and then schools and their students become patrons of their local monument-memorial site.

Dariusz also searches for matzevot and for items left behind by Jewish inhabitants. With the cooperation of and dialogue with local communities, it has been possible to recover tombstones, which have spent decades in backyards outside of cemeteries. These matzevot undergo specialist restoration and are then placed inside cemeteries.

For his work, Dariusz Popiela, was named as the winner of the 2021 POLIN Award, presented at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This honour, awarded annually since 2015, is presented to non-Jewish people or organisations, whose activities protect the memory of the history of Polish Jews and who contribute to the shaping of a common future, mutual understanding and respect. The POLIN Award jury recognised Dariusz’s incredible energy to act and to inspire others to become involved in this project.

FILM PREMIERE SCREENINGS

Accompanying Dariusz’s Oration will be the Australian premiere screenings of this compelling film, which follows him and a group of young Polish students as they work to restore old, forgotten Jewish cemeteries in order to honour the memory of those murdered in the Shoah and whose tombstones were damaged or destroyed.

Combining personal and collective narratives, the film showcases their selfless efforts , which challenge the stereotype of Jewish-Polish antagonism, as they bring attention to the memory of the Polish Jewry.


DETAILS OF EVENTS

(Bookings open 1st August! Seating is limited!)

MELBOURNE

Wednesday, 7th September 2022
6:30pm for 7:00pm
Classic Cinemas,
9 Gordon Street, Elsternwick
Entrance: $25
To book tickets, click HERE

SYDNEY

Sunday, 11th September 2022
4:00pm
The Ritz Cinemas,
45 St. Pauls Street, Randwick
Entrance: $25
To book tickets, click HERE


... and he taught the canaries to sing

Events

July 10, 2022

On Sunday, 10th July 2022, Melbourne’s Beth Weizmann Jewish Community was the venue for a dynamic and vibrant afternoon of animations and music celebrating the diversity of Polish Jewish life before 1939.

The project, conceived and produced by the ASPJ’s Vice-President Estelle Rozinski (pic left), entitled “…and he taught the canaries to sing” received seed funding from the Republic of Poland Consulate in Sydney. The result was a celebratory fusion of story-telling, art and music created by renowned Australian artists, David Asher Brook, Steven Durbach (aka Sid Sledge) and Anita Lester.

Through a child’s lens, these vignettes provide a doorway to stories, which convey the fun and poignancy of everyday life. Estelle Rozinski suggests that the animations “challenge some of the preconceived ideas people have about the way in which our Jewish families lived’. She believes that it is stories, such as those illustrated through the animations, that drive our curiosity, leaving us wanting to know more about the shape and texture of everyday life in pre-war Poland.

The event provided something for everyone.

The warmth and familiarity of Yiddish songs, performed by Elisa Gray, accompanied on the piano by Irene Kalinski, transported the audience to another time. The visual beauty of the animations, created by the three artists, engaged the audience. For those enthralled by process, the Q&A with Estelle Rozinski and artist Steven Durbach provided significant insight into the creative journey of an artist, working at the interface of science and art.

Frances Prince’s skilful “in conversation” framed Estelle Rozinski’s intent and focus, and brought some clarity to the “why”, the “how”, and the “where to from here” of the project.

Click below to watch video highlights of the event:


Autumn 2022 Issue of HAYNT Out Now!

Events

April 9, 2022

HAYNT is the magazine of the Australian Society of Polish Jews and Their Descendants.

It is published three times annually and features articles on the ASPJ’s events and other activities, as well as articles on Polish-Jewish issues in Australia and Poland.

Click HERE to read this current issue!