It’s no secret that Poland’s Jewish community has had a tumultuous existence. Our guest for this edition of #ProjectKazimierz is upcoming TEDx Krakow speaker Jonathan Ornstein who brings his unique perspective on the state of the Jewish community in Poland to the mic for a discussion with Sam and Richard.
Table of contents, resources and links
Resources and links
- BBC Anti-Polish Propaganda
- The Economist on “Stadiums of Hate”
- BBC Panorama’s Chris Rogers reporting doing Nazi Salutes
Table of contents:
Krakow Then and Now
- 00:47 Sam’s Intro
- 01:13 Richard Introduces Jonathan Ornstein
- 02:22 Krakow’s Jewish Heritage
- 03:55 Krakow Today
Poland and Jewish History
- 05:42 Krakow and Tourism
- 07:19 Poland and Jewish History
- 09:17 Richard’s Time Capsule
- 09:51 Poland Today
A Modern Rennaissance
- 10:38 Jonathan Ornstein and TEDx
- 12:20 A Modern Rennaissance
- 13:07 Origins of the Kazimierz Community
- 14:17 Multiculturalism in Poland
Kazimierz and Jewish History
- 17:01 Kazimierz and Jewish History
- 18:01 A New Poland
- 20:06 We’re All Royalists
- 20:24 A Visit from Prince Charles
Passion in Leadership
- 23:28 Leadership Vision
- 24:47 Passion in Leadership
- 26:40 Contradicting Popular Media
This is the Real Poland
- 29:56 Getting the Facts Straight
- 30:44 TEDx Warsaw
Jonathan Ornstein at TEDx
- 32:56 Jonathan and Rabbi Schudrich
- 33:30 Jonathan’s Upcoming TEDx talk
- 35:22 Sam’s Wrap Up
Hello again, Podcast Listener, this is Sam Cook, the co-host of Project Kazimierz with Richard Lucas, how are you doing Richard?
I’m doing very well.
All right, Richard. We’re sitting here actually in the office of the heart of Kazimierz, near Plac Nowy where we’re interviewing someone that Richard knows very well, and as it’s tradition on this show I’m going to make Richard make a more detailed introduction of our guest, Jonathan Ornstein.
Yes, well, I met Jonathan before he was doing the job he’s now doing leading the Jewish Community Center, here in Krakow. When I met him he was a younger, successful, popular academic in the Jagiellonian University, I think teaching jewish studies. And we got together not through no kind of professional relationship we were just friends and I think that it would be much better for Jonathan rather than me to explain how the building we’re now sitting in came into being and what’s being done here which is really remarkable and to complete contrast to what people think about these days when they hear about what’s going on in the Jewish world.
Well, Jonathan, welcome to the show and I’m really excited as a history fledgling historian myself to hear a little bit about the story of Kazimierz, which seems like it’s had a remarkable transformation in the last 20 years probably, mainly due to what you’ve done and obviously to the Jewish Community Center that you founded being a big part of that renaissance here in Poland of the Jewish community.
That’s a very interesting story and it depends how far we can really dive into the history very much I think that we have to go a little bit before the war. I think this area in Krakow itself was a quarter Jewish; about 65, 000 Jews here in the city of 250,000 and of course most of them perished, murdered during the Holocaust. This area which was the Jewish quarter before the war; not that all the Jews lived here but there were a good amount of Jews here; it was primarily Jewish; and this really became kind of a wasteland after the war, the Jews were killed and then the area was to some degree vacant, they moved people back in, it had some kind of criminal element. So it wasn’t really a very good place to be for a long time and that for about 30 years, 40 years after the war was the case and then Schindler’s List was filmed here in 1993 and that really kickstarted this revitalization of the community and of this neighborhood, which has now then led to the revitalization of the community.
So it was kind of interesting a few weeks ago just the timing as we’re sitting here now that Steven Spielberg was in Krakow a few weeks ago in connection to the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. And it was interesting to be able to speak to him about all that he did filming Schindler’s List 20 years ago and how that has led to the sort of transformation of the neighborhood. So it was kind of this very rundown neighborhood and now it’s, you know, the hip, trendy, heart of the city really and the Rynek is of course kind of historic; the most important center of Krakow and very beautiful with the castle, the castle there, and it’s this incredible place, but it’s more of a ‘touristy feel’ there in some ways, here you get sort of a more authentic Kazimierz, a more authentic Krakow for a lot of students and then that whole backdrop of this area that’s been revitalized and rejuvenated is sort of, that connects to what we’re doing here, which is to welcome the Jewish community back.
The Jewish community that really went underground during communism is not all the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust although over 90% of Polish Jews and over 90% of the Krakow’s Jews were killed and then our goal here at the center is to reach out to those people with Jewish roots and really to invite everyone in but primarily to reach out to those Poles who are finding out that they have Jewish roots and say come back, it’s accepted today, it’s fine to be Jewish and that’s this experiment going on. We find that we’re having great results with that; young people especially who come to Krakow and as you probably know there are 200, 000 students in Krakow in a city of 800, 000 so it’s a very young city; massive, massive university presence and these young people who grew up somewhere else, wherever they come from in Poland, from a small town or village, and they find out somehow these crazy stories about having Jewish roots and then they come to Krakow to study and we want to say come in, get involved. Today it’s acceptable to be Jewish and this backdrop of Kazimierz of this re-born Jewish quarter helps us very much in terms of getting that message out and this environment that we exist in.
And it’s interesting to hear you talk about tourism because when I first came to Krakow in 1989 I was working for a company that we had tourism consultancy and tourism consultants always looks at key attractions and for listeners who don’t know the geography of Poland or the geography of Europe, Krakow, where we are now, is about 50 miles or 80 kilometers from the site of the Auschwitz, which I’m sure everyone’s heard of. So a great many tourists go to Auschwitz. Obviously, it’s not in tourism language that’s what’s called ‘the key attraction’ which is a crazy thing to say, but the result of this is a huge wave of tourists, not just Jews, but including Jews, for whom is part of their life to come to Poland expecting really, as far as I understand it, to go to Auschwitz and not necessarily realizing what’s going on now. And one of the things that Jonathan did was to personally through the center give people an alternative vision of what to expect. In fact, sometimes perhaps even confirming their expectations when they came to Krakow.
Yes, absolutely. Auschwitz gets I think about 1.4 million visitors a year, which is a huge number of people from all over the world, Jews and non-Jews. I think after Israelis the second country that sends the most visitors or that has the most people visiting Auschwitz is South Korea, which is very interesting and somewhat unexpected. That’s just I think it’s because of the UNESCO site and that something very popular to visit; the different UNESCO sites around the world. But any way, so there’s an idea I think especially from a Jewish point of view, when we think about it, that Poland is a place of loss and this place of tragedy because so much of the Holocaust happened here, a lot of the camps were situated here during a German occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1945. And certainly Auschwitz, as the symbol of the Holocaust, and the Krakow being the city next to Auschwitz, then there’s a certain expectation that tourists and Jewish tourists have coming here, which is to see this place of darkness and of tragedy. And we are here at the JCC, at the Community Center, are very keen to show that that is not the whole story and that’s sort of the backdrop to this amazing revival going on now and especially from a Jewish point of view that we feel it’s important that the Jewish world that we don’t see, we don’t build too much of our identity on tragedy and what’s happened to us and this idea of this bright spot in Jewish Europe and the darkening Europe. We live in a difficult time for Jew today in Europe, you know, in terms of what’s going on in the news and attacks in France and attacks in Copenhagen. Then this idea of Poland, which is generally seen as this place of loss, is now this place where Jewish life is booming again and down there especially in a city like Krakow down the road from Auschwitz.
I think there’s a very powerful message there that goes beyond the message only for Jews that no community or no place is ever beyond hope or beyond redemption and the fact that this community that was almost completely decimated by the Holocaust and then driven underground during communism and re-emerge in this very tolerant open atmosphere, although we’re situated where we are next to Auschwitz, I think that there’s a kind of very important and very sort of cool positive message there. It’s almost as if you’d go to, I don’t know, Darfur 50 years from now and that would be a center of co-operation in Africa and think about what that would mean.
Yes, as Listeners know, by the way we’re recording this in February 2015 if you’re listening to this in 20 or 30 years from now or you go back to what’s happening in Europe, there’s a lot of rising tension against immigrants and a lot of fundamentalist religious extremists doing things which, well, look it up, I guess the internet in some way shape or form will exist in 30 years’ time, check what was happening in 2015 to see what Jonathan’s referring to. I think this is very interesting as a post-communist society that there’s big generation gap here. There’s a generation of young people now who are growing up in a Poland that’s relatively normal and for them this a kind of tremendous desire to be normal in a way that 40- or 50-year-old Poles, who grew up in communism, just can’t remember their childhood as normal by global standards. So there’s something about going beyond that that’s very interesting, because people here are more positive about modern values than I think many Western or West Europeans or Americans because they appreciate what a privilege it is to me normal, so when someone thinks about what’s going on here is beyond normal, it’s completely extraordinary in a very positive way. So I don’t know, Jonathan, you could talk about your relationship not just with the young people and not just with the students, but with the TEDx Community because one of the reasons we’re doing this is because we’re delighted to have you as one of our keynote speakers at TEDxKazimierz, the first ever TED in Kazimierz. The TEDxKazimierz, which is happening in May this year.
“What’s going on here is beyond normal, it’s completely extraordinary in a very positive way.”
Well, I’m very excited about the TEDxKazimierz. Actually TED, TEDx has been something very close to me. I’ve been involved in the first TEDx in Poland in Warsaw and have been as our 27 billion listeners which is what I think we’ll be at in 30 years from now as we seem to be jumping into the future, but I’ve been a fan of TED for a long time so it’s exciting for me to be able to be involved in this area and yea, I think that Kazimierz has, there’s a certain magic here, there’s a certain, you know, I think that those of us who live here and those of us who spend a lot of time here see the uniqueness of this Jewish quarter that’s become something very, very special in Krakow and idea of having a TEDx here I think it adds a lot to that and the fact that the story that I’m going to tell at TEDxKazimierz, in May 2015. The fact that it’s so connected to Kazimierz, I think, is something also very special, so I’d be able to tell that story anywhere is a nice thing and important for me to be able to do, but to do it here in the place where it’s actually going on in real time as it is going on is something that I think will add a lot to it.
“I think that Kazimierz has, there’s a certain magic here, I think that those of us who live here and those of us who spend a lot of time here see the uniqueness of this Jewish quarter that’s become something very, very special in Krakow and idea of having a TEDx here I think it adds a lot to that.”
Well, Jonathan I’m very interested in your perspective, because one of the things I think a lot of people miss in Kazimierz is this perspective of this renaissance of Jewish life and Poland you mentioned as a place of loss but [the king] Kazimierz, the original that founded this, that whole tradition of Jewish; there was a reason there was so many Jews in Poland compared to anywhere else in Europe and it was because what’s going on now happened 600 years ago when the Polish kings went in Germany and all kinds of other places, there was anti-Semitism programs, and what went on in Spain during the inquisition, the Poles would say ‘Hey, come over here’ and that’s why there was such a large concentration. So can you take us back little bit to the days of King Kazimierz, and the origins of this community, this vibrant Jewish community in Poland.
No, you’re perfectly right, and this is something that people don’t know enough about. We tend to see and I’m sure you as the historian know much more about this than I do but we are so completely, it’s hard for people to get past their own experience, and people who have first hand memory or their parents left Poland before the war or survive the Holocaust, see the whole in certain light and we tend to forget why there were so many Jews living here. Because they were invited in this area by King Kazimierz, Kazimierz the Great, and I think the line is that he found Poland made of wood and left it made of stone, it’s that it, Richard, as a longtime Cracovian, can you back me up on that?
What I can say is the British educational system is very good at giving people the impression you know what you’re talking about when you don’t.
Just say it in a British accent, Richard, and we’ll believe.
As of the case growing up in Oxford as I did and studying at Cambridge University what I can say is that really what happened in Poland was a form of ethnic cleansing. At times Poland was quite a multicultural society with different minorities living here and as a result of the dreadful policies of the Nazis and the Soviets Poland became ethnically very, very, what’s the right word, I would say pure but that sounds positive…
Homogenous, thank you. And I think that one of the things I say in my promotion of entrepreneurship in Poland is that Kraków has a tradition as a trading center and trade it is a great way by which different cultures and nationalities and ethnic groups can share things because trade is about mutually beneficial exchange.
And the way that primarily through history that was the main engine for sharing things and for intercultural relations, it was of course trade.
Exactly. So I think there is a strong, let’s say there is an unusual situation in terms of the lack of diversity in Poland and what’s happening here particularly in Kazimierz is really is a trend which can only benefit. It’s very nice that it’s in Poland, because Poland has this reputation of being rather old-fashioned, rather conservative, certainly out in the countryside and sometimes in villages, it’s true that somehow the trend in Poland is different, the trend in the island I’m from, the United Kingdom, seems to be more in favor of nationalism, more in favor of closing down, more in favor of keeping people out, despite the fact that Anglo-Saxon means Viking-German.
A lot of French in there.
And while Great Britain, Britain is in France, the whole country is a kind of long-term melting pot and somehow, you know, Poland seems to be heading in the other direction; at least I hope it is; and there’s evidence here in Kraków, which is great, it’s a countercurrent and I think that’s a very positive thing.
They put up with you and I, Richard, so I mean that’s pretty…
And they let me become a citizen so…
I’ve lived in Poland for 24 years and I tell my family and friends back in the UK that it’s positively embarrassing and humiliating to represent, to be a nation of a country where the countries that want to keep Central Europeans out are doing well on the opinion polls. Whereas here as a British person in Poland I’m made to feel positively welcome, and I feel like I’m not backed up by the country I’m from in terms of being able to have some kind of reciprocity to the hospitality I received here. It’s really sad and it’s really remarkable but it’s good for Poland and it’s a black mark against the country I’m from.
Absolutely and he makes a very good point and I think also this idea that Poland is returning or moving toward a multicultural society, which was its history for a very long time. King Kazimierz did invite the Jews and that helped the country in a lot of ways and at a certain point which is an amazing statistic, about 80% of the Jews in the whole world lived in, what’s not necessarily a Polish border right know, but Poland, Lithuania, Belarus this sort of greater historic area of Polish speaking lands, that’s phenomenal. Of every 5 Jews in the world 4 lived here at certain point in the Middle Ages. So you know that just kind of gives you a little perspective on the importance of Jewish history in Poland, both to the Jews and of course to the Poles. I think that we in the Jewish community feel like we live in a place that’s a very good place to be Jewish today and we also are aware that we think that’s good for Poland and I should say that when we talk about these things we are very much here focused on Jewish life, you know it’s the Jewish community center. But Poland, our concerns are for other minorities and I think that as somebody living here for not as long as you, Richard, but for 13 years, the last 13 years living here in Poland, I think that Poland has not only become more accepting in terms of Jews but it’s just become an open tolerant society and that means less xenophobic, less homophobic.
I remember 12 years ago,13 years ago I never saw a gay couple walking hand-in-hand or kissing in the street or even in a pub or anything and now, I won’t say it’s the most common thing to see, but you do see it and not everyone is turning around and staring but it’s become something normal and Poland is rejoining it’s place in Europe as interestingly as you point out, as old Europe seems to be turning away. But maybe that’s just you know for Sam as a historian you know, these things just go in waves you know, trends and things, that it’s good in one place and things kind of balance out. So maybe where Poland is now looking outward and then other countries that have been very outward looking are kind of the pendulum switching, goes back, swings the other way and starts to look inward.
But it’s nice to be, I think, to me, and I don’t know Richard what you think about this, and Sam you know living here now, but it’s nice to live in a society that you feel the energy and the excitement, that there’s more opportunity for people here than the generation before. And every young person you speak to, and it’s one of those sort of intangibles about living in an exciting place like this or living in a place like Kraków, is that every young person you talk to and everybody between the age of about 18 to 35, it depends on what we call young, for me – I’m 45 – so anybody my age or younger is young, but they all understand they’re growing up in a society with more opportunity than their parents had and that’s something that you might think – oh, that’s no big deal – but that really plays a part into you know through the energy and what people feel like in Poland today.
“Poland is rejoining it’s place in Europe as interestingly as you point out, as old Europe seems to be turning away.”
I would stay I’m socially very liberal, perhaps financially quite conservative, but I’m the only person from a country that is a monarchy and I think that many people find it quite strange that British people come from a monarchy which is rather traditional, perhaps even backward looking, way of organizing society. So it might be quite interesting for people who haven’t been on the JCC, Jewish Community Center website to talk about the unusual impact of the British Royal Family. I accept the British system, I feel loyal to my country but I think for some people it’s a bit of a puzzle. I know a lot of people are quite interested in the British Royal Family so perhaps Jonathan you could give us a few sentences about how that happened. It’s a pretty strange story and quite entertaining.
It’s a very good story. I say that all great stories or great institutions need a good creation myth and ours happens to be true. So we’re all fierce royalists in this building now and I should explain why. So I like to tell groups our JCC was founded by Prince Charles and that’s the least, which is a cool idea, but it’s the least interesting thing about the building, but I’ll tell this story because it is a good story.
So in 2002 the Prince was here in Kraków on a state visit and as part of his visit he met here with some members of the local Jewish Community and he was very moved by their story and what they’ve gone through surviving the war and then communism and he wanted to do something to help and they told him that they didn’t have a place that they could be together, like a senior citizens club. And Prince Charles promised that he would help them realize their dream and he went back to the UK and he got involved with an organization called World Jewish Relief which used to, under a different name, was the sponsor and main organizer of the Kindertransport; which at the beginning of World War II saved, brought about 10,000 Jewish children right as the war was starting, got them out of Europe and saved them and generally all their parents and families perished and saved these children.
And they do a lot of work around the Jewish world and they took a look with another organization from the United States called the JDC, The Joint, they took a look at Poland and they realized that there was something else going on besides this older Jewish community that everyone knew about, which Prince Charles engaged with. They took a look and they realized that young people were starting to find out about their Jewish roots, that these people who had gone underground during communism were starting to rediscover about their Jewish background and they went back to the Prince with the counter offer and said instead of just doing something to serve the older community what if we do something like JCC which will serve as hub as maybe as a magnet to bring people into the community. And Prince Charles being an eminently wise man said great idea and he gave some money and then with the Prince’s involvement the project became a lot more viable and they were able to raise the money for the center and in 2008 the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla came and opened the JCC and spent the day with us and I was lucky enough to be the Prince’s host for the day, which for a nice Jewish boy from Queens was quite an exciting thing. And it’s pretty remarkable because without question if the Prince hadn’t gotten involved and actually followed through on his desire to help them the Center wouldn’t be here and I think I can safely say that this Jewish community here in Kraków wouldn’t have a future.
I think that leads us nicely to a question about leadership and vision, because I remember when the center was in the process of being built, there was recruitment process who was going to run it. And what has happened here has so much to with, it’s quite hard to find the right words, but it would be easy to imagine what might have happened here if it had been run by someone who regarded the occupation of the role of Director of the of the Jewish Community Center as a kind of right and privilege, rather than as an opportunity. And I think that leadership is such a hard thing to define but could you say a few words Jonathan about what you’re mission was, when you heard people come to work here what you were looking for, how you want people to behave when you’re not around, because I know you spent a lot of time, you told me before we started, a lot of time in the State’s fundraising. So what happens here today is no longer micromanaged by you. So what was your leadership vision and what are you looking for when you’re encouraging people to get involved in working here, either as a full time employee or as a volunteer?
I wish I could honestly say that I had a leadership vision when I was beginning here doing something. I had always been generally a pretty bossy person and that was sort of certain leadership qualities. What’s become difficult, what’s been the challenge for me is learning to be a manager as well as a leader. And I think that’s something that I started with zero management experience and now at the center we have 35 employees, 50, 60 volunteers. It’s become quite a big operation in that sense and it runs itself very well, no thanks to me. In terms of leadership though, I think that I’m very passionate about what I do here and one thing that I look for in people that work here is that kind of passion. I don’t think anybody, it depends on the type of, I don’t know how scalable it is, and it depends on the kind of organization you’re running, but you know, I don’t see this really as a job and I don’t think anybody working here sees it as a job. People associate themselves with the center in a very strong way and the identity of the center it’s something that people do.
Maybe in the sense of that the branding of it, but in an internal sense, the way people associate themselves with sports teams, people feel a connection to teams and I think that that’s what we have here and I think I look for that kind of passion in a person and drive. Because, you know, the skills and things like that are teachable and I won’t get into management issues and theory of leadership because I don’t, I’m certainly not an expert in any sense, but we’ve had a lot of luck here and in terms of this and to the center is really a success, because of the people working here. And I would say the common theme running through or the common quality that they all share is a real passion about the job. You know, we’ve had no turnover, no job turnover here. The center has as been opened for 6 and a half years and I think one person has really has left and that’s an amazing, amazing thing and they’re not being paid very much. It really speaks to this idea that people believe in the idea of building Jewish life here and being part of something that is larger than yourself.
And I spent a bunch of years in Israel living on a kibbutz, which is kind of communal way of living with people. What you do and what you have is dictated by the needs of the community. And I think that I took a lot away from there in terms of satisfaction that people feel and the desire that I think that we all have as social creatures to be part of something larger than ourselves, maybe something larger than a family unit, which is what we generally think of, but smaller than the country. People I think have that here and they associate themselves with the JCC in a way that I think that I found before in kibbutz, that people really owe something to the center, they get a lot from it, they owe it, so they give something back and it’s something much more than work.
You don’t know this but Sam is a dedicated Economist reader as am I and a few years ago quite recently, maybe two or three years ago, there was some coverage of the JCC in The Economist in the context of quite a major controversy. And just listening to you talk about leadership made me think of the fact that one of the reasons I’m so committed to the JCC and I’m proud to sponsor the fireworks at your various annual parties, because I’m a pyromaniac, it’s very nice to have an excuse to let off fireworks in the city centre, is because the JCC is an example of the sort of Poland I want to be proud of. This country has adopted me or I have adopted this country and you always want to find the good things. It’s a bit like a child who’s got some wonderful features and some bad features and you want to point out the good things and there are so many good things about the JCC and what it stands for is like the best version of what you can find going on in modern Poland but on the other hand the controversy in the media was that there were people rather looking for the bad things. I don’t know if you could summarize that experience and maybe comment on why you think it is that it’s necessary for you to go on the record and contradict major global news organizations. It’s an usual thing for you to have to do as a community center leader.
Well, I as part of a program that the BBC did, Panorama, a program on BBC, which was called Stadiums of Hate which I didn’t know the title. Again, talking about the danger that the fans and even the players would be coming to Poland for the Euro Football Championships here in 2012. And I participated in the program and I felt that what I said was twisted and that the program itself was tendentious, which was a word that I think the only time I ever used that word was in connection to this program. I wanted to go on record and contest what they had done, which I felt was portraying Poland in a very bad light just in a sensationalist way and that didn’t accurately portray the issues going on in Poland and I felt that they had an agenda and I thought it was my responsibility as someone living in Poland and as you Richard someone who’s found a home here and be welcomed here that somebody stand up and be counted and say when something was wrong. And the BBC didn’t like being questioned and that became a little back and forth and then it got involved in The Economist and published something that I wrote. I think that that was never really, you know I sort of backed away at the end, because you realize that at a certain point the story starts to become a bit more about you and less about the issues and you don’t want to necessarily fight and I don’t think Jonathan Ornstein versus the BBC was a fair fight; not fair for the BBC obviously. (Haha.) So I backed away.
Don’t mess with someone from Queens.
That’s right, don’t mess with New Yorkers.
Well, maybe together with the podcast we’ll take them on.
Hopefully, the podcast will accurately represent my thoughts or I won’t have to go to the (…) of the podcast but no, I thought it was a shame that the BBC did that and especially that Poland is doing very, very well and to look for the worst was something that was not acceptable to me. Now Poland obviously does have its problems, it has issues of anti-semitism and racism and xenophobia and homophobia and sexism and anything else, like every other country does, and in some areas it’s doing well, and in some not so well, but it’s important to not only to focus on that, we need to call those things out when they happen but it needs to be done in a fair way. And I thank you for your support in that, Richard, helping me get the message out there and show the true face of Poland today, which is a country that is becoming more tolerant toward all I think.
It’s a very interesting story. We will attach show notes to this podcast, so that people can follow the links if they want to follow up on these things in detail. There’s another issue, in Warsaw in TEDxWarsaw Rabbi Schudrich gave a great talk on a similar vein and sometimes there’s a historic rivalry between the former capital Krakow and Warsaw, the current capital.
What do you mean, former capital?
It never left.
But again, I’ll be going up to TEDxWarsaw next month and again, Warsaw has this reputation of being a rundown gloomy city, and there’s no city I know in Europe that looks more like this of Manhattan the skyline in a way, it’s just these sprouting, these shiny buildings everywhere. And Warsaw, it’s not that beautiful city in the way that Kraków is, but it’s not just in Krakow, although we are in Kazimierz, which is in Kraków, and we feel very patriotic locally, there’s also a sense that the whole country is on the move. It was actually the 1st TEDx talk that I transcribed was Rabbi Schudrich’s talk, that I think was TEDxWarsaw 2012 so this isn’t the only TEDx that has a close connection with the Jewish revival in Poland. I don’t know if you would like to say anything about your corporation with Rabbi Schudrich.
Sure, Rabbi Schudrich is a very close friend, one of my closest friends here in Poland. I’m in constant almost say daily contact with Rabbi Schudrich and his TEDx talk was fantastic. I was excited, I was there for that talk, and excited to be in the audience and hear what he had to say. He has a certain perspective here as a longtime resident of Poland, as you are, and also of course as the chief Rabbi. He gets to connect to a lot of interesting people and you hear a lot of stories and he tells them very well.
Okay we’re running towards the end of your time. Obviously, the content of your TEDx talk should be in some way not pre-disclosed here, but if you think about the objectives and maybe there’s some people listening to this Podcast who won’t get to show up at TEDxKazimierz or they should be able to find it online because all TEDx and TED talks are under creative comments and should be available forever for everyone. So strong encouragement to listen to Jonathan talk, but if someone missed your talk what would be the most important things that you want you wanted to get across because the idea of a TEDx talk or a TED talk is to give a talk of your life, so just imagine, you just got a few seconds, a few sentences to say what would be the most important thing for someone to take away from your contribution?
I think the idea of hope, the idea of being positive and the idea of much as like with TED itself that how important inspiration is and this idea that a TED talk can inspire and change the world and I think that what’s going on here in Krakow and Kazimierz at the JCC is a positive message that can really inspire and change the world.
Amen to that and I think that the great thing about the TEDx movement is that it brings people who share a common vision together which is ideas are important. Everyone has a choice of what they can do with their time, you always have choices, you can watch TV, you can listen to music, you can go down to the park with your friends, and all of these things might be worth doing, but the TEDx community and the TED community are united around the idea that it’s actually worth investing time on earth and money exploring ideas. I hope that the people who are listening to this Podcast they also feel that the time spent listening to the ideas discussed here was worth it. I don’t know, Sam would you like wrap up with any final comments?
Jonathan, I think that, just on behalf of the listener and myself and Richard, just thank you for providing this story of thinking life and people’s understanding of what Project Kazimierz is all about. There’s a reason I moved into this part of the city cause I did live when you said in the beginning, at the Rynek. I thought that the cool part of Krakow would be the old center and I quickly realized that I had missed the mark and I want to get away from the, sorry Richard, the drunk British tourists and then into the heart of the city in terms of the energy, the entrepreneurship. I view Krakow as the heart of something very special in Eastern Europe and you know to be a part of the coolest neighborhood and what I think is really the coolest city in Europe, which I’m embarrassed to say as a history teacher knew literally next to nothing about Krakow before I stumbled upon it in my travels after the army. So I just thank you for that and I look forward to getting in a lot more about this community. I am meeting a fellow New Yorker, I’m a recovering New Yorker myself and just seeing you talk and inspire people of TEDxKazimierz. I think everyone is who’s listening to this, if you haven’t passed May, make sure that you do show up and support Jonathan’s talk and if not, find it online, it will be well worth it.
Thank you very much.
Join The Conversation: