From the ASPJ President

Dear Members and Friends,

Thankfully. 2022 has seen us emerge from the COVID-impacted 2020 and 2021. Although there are still some legacy pandemic adjustments, it is pleasing to report that the Australian Society of Polish Jews & Their Descendants (ASPJ) is back full throttle.

We recommenced our first in-person event in December 2021, with the presentation of the 2021 Henryk Sławik Award. It was a wonderful evening, where we caught up with friends we had not seen for a while, heard wise words from our recipient, Arnold Zable, and awarded .

Since then, the ASPJ has hosted further live events.

It was a great thrill, in July 2022, for the ASPJ to host, in a packed Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre auditorium in Melbourne, the acclaimed creative project curated by our Vice-President Estelle Rozinski from NSW, “… and he taught the canaries to sing, featuring animations and stories celebrating vignettes of pre-War Jewish life in Poland.

Most recently, in September 2022 in Melbourne and in Sydney (for the first time), the ASPJ hosted its 2022 ASPJ Oration, featuring Dariusz Popiela of “People, not Numbers” and the Australian premiere of his film “Edge of Light”.  Dariusz’s visit to Australia, highlighted by the film and his Orations, were an outstanding success. Darek’s charming personality coupled with his humility, universally impressed and inspired all those who took the opportunity to hear about his work in restoring forgotten cemeteries and identifying forgotten victims.

As well as these live events, during the past few months, the ASPJ has continued hosting high quality Webinars, which included

  • in August 2022, an online tour of the Galicia Jewish Museum from Kraków, followed by a discussion with its director Jakub Nowakowski
  • in June 2022 a webinar “Jewish-Poland and its Role in the Ukraine Refugee crisis” with Poland Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich.

Recordings of these plus a host more webinars, functions and material are available for viewing on this website and on our ASPJ Youtube channel.

On the diplomatic front, the ASPJ was invited to farewell the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Australia His Excellency Mr Michał Kołodziejski in July 2022 at both a public gathering and also in a private meeting. The ASPJ formally acknowledges the friendship and efforts of His Excellency the Ambassador in further developing Polish-Jewish relations. The ASPJ was also pleased to hear from His Excellency Lloyd Brodrick, Australian Ambassador to Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, who personally advised that, in July 2022, he accompanied Australian Governor-General David Hurley, on the first-ever visit to Poland by an Australian Governor-General, or an Australian Governor-General’s first-ever official visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he paid respects to the victims on behalf of the Australian Government and people.

I’ll also take this opportunity to reiterate publicly our very warm and heartfelt congratulations to the Polish Community Council of Victoria (PCCV) on the milestone of the 60th anniversary of their establishment. The strong relationships developed, both personally and communally, between the ASPJ and the PCCV, reflects the genuine commitment and cooperation of our organisations to strengthen our areas of common interest. It is also an indication of the remarkable people involved in both organisations since their establishment.

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 communities“.

These are ambitious and noble aims, yet ones, at least I think, we do well. Notwithstanding the challenges, it is the work the ASPJ and its members and supporters do, as highlighted earlier, at grass roots, communal and high level governmental and diplomatic levels, that is very much at the forefront of preserving and promoting the historical and cultural heritage of Jewish life in Poland and fostering increased understanding between the Polish and Jewish communities.

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible both online and especially in person at our upcoming functions. There are already many and varied webinars, events and functions in planning for the coming months.

As we approach the Jewish New Year season, the ASPJ wishes everyone a Sweet and Happy New Year. May it be a year full of health, happiness and peace for all.

Shana Tova, Szczesliwego Nowego Roku, Happy New Year,

Ezra May,
President, ASPJ.