From the ASPJ President

Dear Members and Friends,

As we have all experienced and are acutely aware, especially those living in Victoria, 2020 has been unprecedented in almost every way.

The COVID19 pandemic has significantly impacted the Australian Society of Polish Jews & their Descendants (ASPJ) with our suite of planned 2020 events and functions almost entirely postponed or cancelled.

Notwithstanding our understanding and acceptance of the primacy of public health, it was nevertheless disappointing for the APSJ to have to cancel its flagship 2020 ASPJ Oration and our 2020 Henryk Sławik Award. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated formal launching of our ASPJ New South Wales chapter was also another COVID casualty.

The other great disappointment for the ASPJ this year was the retirement of Bernard Korbman OAM. An edition of Haynt earlier this year paid tribute, in great detail, to his contribution as our founding and former ASPJ President. The absence of his contribution is still felt.

The ASPJ also acknowledges the untimely passing of Marian Pawlak OAM, President of the Polish Community Council of Victoria, this year as well as the retirement of Dr George Łuk-Kozika OAM as Honorary Consul-General of the Republic of Poland in Victoria. Their friendship, support and our mutual respect was greatly appreciated.

However as is always the case, a change in circumstances provides opportunities and it was a great thrill for the ASPJ to enter a partnership with FestivALT – an independent, arts collective which produces a program of critically-acclaimed, Jewish art and activism, based in Kraków, Poland. The ASPJ and FestivALT have already collaborated on seveal online events and tours, specifically curated for an Australian audience, and we look forward to furthering this relationship.

A notable highlight this year was our inaugural ASPJ webinar featuring Poland Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich. This event was a resounding success with over 500 combined views. A great thrill for the ASPJ was the unsolicited request from Australian Ambassador to Poland, Lloyd Brodrick, to join the webinar in order to say a few words in appreciation of Chief Rabbi Schudrich. I take that as a great honour and as a mark of respect for both Chief Rabbi Schudrich and for the ASPJ.

Despite the challenges and restrictions of 2020, I believe that the ASPJ, as an organisation, has continued to develop and grow. We have successfully responded and adapted to the changed environment and seem to have grown our reach and branding.

These successes are due to the incredible effort and commitment of the ASPJ Board, which continues, individually and collectively, to devote so much passion amd time to further our aims. Personally, their support, guidance and advice has been the rock upon which I have totally reliedand and for which I cannot adequately express my dependence and appreciation.

I look forward to being able to reintroduce some of our headline functions in 2021, when permitted to do so – as we have an outstanding line-up of guests who have accepted invitations for the coming year.

Wishing everyone a safe & happy summer,

Ezra May,
President, ASPJ