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Promotion of the “Polish-Jewish Remembrance” monograph


(From the left: Katarzyna Dzierżawska (Director of the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv), Prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek, Elżbieta Żurek, Ryszard Loew (editor of “Kontury. Almanach Autorów Piszących po Polsku w Izraelu” [“Contours. Almanac of Polish Authors in Israel”]), photo: Agata Krizewsky)


On December 10th, 2021, Prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek, Director of KUL’s International Centre for Research on the History and Cultural Heritage of Jews in East-Central Europe gave a lecture at the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv. A large audience attended a lecture entitled “Polish-Jewish Remembrance” about the Professor’s new scientific monograph, being an attempt to describe the relations between Poles and Jews depicted in literature from 1918 to the present day. This was one of the elements of Prof. Żurek’s research visit to Israel.

“The two-month visit to Israel was extremely successful. In addition to the research carried out at the National Library of Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, I gave three lectures: at the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv, at the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem (during the session devoted to Hanukkah and Christmas) and at the Polish Studies Centre at Haifa University,” says Prof. Żurek. “I also took part in an international seminar at the Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan as part of the work of a research consortium of three universities (KUL, Bar-Ilan University, and the University of Antwerp),” he adds.

All of the above-mentioned meetings also featured the promotion of a book entitled “Odpamiętywania polsko-żydowskie” [“Polish-Jewish Remembrance”], devoted to the roles of Jews in the development of Polish culture. The title of the monograph can be regarded as a description of the entire process which has been going on for over thirty years (since 1989) in historical, cultural, and literary research covering the contribution of Polish Jews to the development of Polish culture, their participation in social life, and relations between them and other Poles. This exploration was preceded by a silence, which, following the extermination of Jews unleashed by the Nazis fell around their centuries-long presence in the Republic. The scholarly research conducted between 1945 and 1989 – both on this presence and on the annihilation of the Jewish world during the Holocaust – was very limited in scope. The communist authorities saw no need either to recall the historical existence of Polish citizens of Jewish origin, or to reflect on their “disappearance” during the war. As a result of this approach, for the majority of Poles, both the pre-World War II Jewish world and the Holocaust itself have become mere artefacts created on the basis of post-memory processes taking place in culture.

Prof. Sławomir Jacek Żurek is a literary scholar, the head of the Unit for Polish-Jewish Literature and Director of KUL’s International Centre for Research on the History and Cultural Heritage of Jews in East-Central Europe. He leads an international Belgian-Israeli-Polish research consortium, currently carrying out the project: “21st Century Literature and the Holocaust. Comparative and Multilanguage Perspective” (2020 – 2023).