From the ASPJ President

Dear Members and Friends,

Although the global Coronavirus pandemic is severely impacting our way of life, thankfully, Australia has been one of the most successful countries in the world in reducing the direct health impact of Covid-19. Notwithstanding that blessing, the sincere sympathy of the ASPJ is extended to all those families who have lost loved ones and we wish a speedy recovery to all those currently suffering and a strong protection for those vulnerable to it. Our thoughts are also extended to those suffering from the enforced lockdowns and social distancing, be it economically or emotionally.

The ASPJ is not immune and we, too, have been affected by Covid-19. Our 2020 schedule of events has necessarily been postponed, including our widely anticipated 2020 ASPJ Oration,  featuring the inspirational Dariusz Popiela – a current Polish Olympian and founder of People, Not Numbers – a unique project which leads efforts to preserve the memory of otherwise forgotten Polish-Jewish communities throughout his home region in Poland.  The ASPJ’s plans for other functions, events and exhibitions throughout this year, on a wide variety of interesting topics, have also been forced to be placed on hold.

One aspect the ASPJ was seeking to focus on and expand was its national footprint. So that it was with great disappointment that the launch of our NSW chapter was postponed in March earlier this year. Also, the format of our 2020 Henryk Slawick Award, scheduled for November, remains in doubt, as it is still unknown what restrictions may apply at that time.

The major indirect impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the ASPJ, is that during the initial lockdown period, our CEO and my Co-President Bernard Korbman OAM, took time to reflect and came to the determination that the time was right for him to retire, effective immediately, from all positions at the ASPJ. Now is not the time to laud Bernard’s contribution in establishing, building and leading the ASPJ and on his impact on Polish-Jewish relations in Australia and internationally. A formal appreciation and recognition will be organised at the appropriate time. However, it would be remiss of me and the ASPJ not to acknowledge Bernard’s retirement in the moment.

Positively for the ASPJ, a strong, committed and talented Board remains, with strong links and involvement in both the local Australian and international Jewish and Polish communities, as well aswith relevant parliamentarians, dignitaries, institutions and organisations.

Despite all the current uncertainty and the concerns many people have regarding the future direction of world events, or perhaps it is precisely due to this increased uncertainty and concern, that the APSJ remains committed to promoting its agenda and ideals of preserving and promoting the historical cultural heritage of Jewish life in Poland and continuing to foster understanding between current and future generations of Jewish and Polish communities, as well as in areas of inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue.

We see our mission of inspiring and enabling dialogue and the exchange of ideas as now more crucial than ever. It is in this vein that we continue to work to further these ideals. Please look out for our re-worked program for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. The ASPJ is actively exploring opportunities for a wider scope of events and international experts and guests as we pivot to online and technology-based formats.

Looking forward to you joining us on our continued ASPJ journey. Stay safe!

Ezra May,
President, ASPJ