From the ASPJ President

Dear Members and Friends,

Dzień dobry and welcome to our first edition of “Haynt” for 2023.

Although we are now over a quarter of the way through 2023, in many ways, it feels as if we are just getting over the busy end which the ASPJ had to 2022.

Just to recap some of the highlights:

  • July 2022 – in a packed Beth Weizmann auditorium in Melbourne, the ASPJ hosted the acclaimed creative project curated by our Vice-President Estelle Rozinski, “… and he taught
    the canaries to sing”, featuring animations and stories celebrating vignettes of pre-war Jewish life in Poland. This project was also shown in Sydney in October 2022.
  • September 2022 – for the first time, both in Melbourne and in Sydney, the ASPJ hosted its 2022 ASPJ Oration, featuring Dariusz Popiela, founder of “People, not Numbers” and the Australian premiere of the film “Edge of Light”. The ASPJ Orations were an outstanding success and Darek’s charming personality coupled with his humility, inspired all those who heard about his work in restoring forgotten cemeteries and identifying and memorialising forgotten victims.
  • November 2022  – on a different note, the ASPJ partnered with the Polish Community Council of Victoria (PCCV) in hosting our inaugural The Circle Social Club function.The Circle Social Club was a dream project of previous ASPJ and PCCV Presidents Bernard Korbman, Izi Marmur and the late Marian Pawlik, to host social functions to enhance friendships between members and friends of our two organisations. An entertaining and enjoyable night of Jazz music was our first event and we look forward to more such functions and joint initiatives with the PCCV this year and into the future.
  • 19th March 2023 – the ASPJ hosted a booth at the In One Voice Festival in Melbourne, where we were busy all day with many attendees passing by and stopping for a chat, often sharing their Polish ancestry, as well as views on issues related to Polish–Jewish matters of interest.
  • 26th March 2023 in Sydney and 2nd April 2023 in Melbourne, the ASPJ hosted visiting historian and genealogist Michał Majewski as guest speaker at an ASPJ Genealogy Open Day. Both events were well attended and provided attendees with an excellent overview, as well as practical tips, on where and how to best search and navigate the available resources.

The ASPJ’s Statement of Purpose is to preserve and promote the historical and cultural heritage of Jewish life in Poland and to foster understanding between current and future generations of the Polish and Jewish

As we look around at the world in 2023, it seems that our purpose is more necessary than ever. There is the concerning and heart-breaking rise in antisemitism, both locally and internationally, as well as general overt
fascist and nationalist politics that seeks to not only divide communities, but threaten and actually harm in acts of violence. As well, the war in Ukraine continues to rage with its mounting military and civilian toll and
continuing refugee crisis.

As we have just celebrated the Festival of Pesach – Passover, one can only hope that globally and individually we all experience its central theme of “Liberation & Freedom”. We now also stand on the precipice of periods of reflection and gratitude in the calendar. We nowhave Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day – and the following week Yom HaZikaron – Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror, immediately followed by Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel Independence Day.

In Australia, we also commemorate ANZAC Day.

All of these days should cause us to pause and reflect not only on the tremendous debt which we owe for the sacrifice of so many of the generations before us to ensure that people, all peoples, can live today in peace, friendship and tolerance with each other, but also on the terrible suffering and devastation that can result when we don’t.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our upcoming eventss.

Ezra May,
President, ASPJ.