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June 30, 2015 / 13 Tammuz, 5775
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Sigmund Rolat And Wayne Zuckerman Honored At YU Museum

        The exhibit “And I Still See Their Faces,” at the Yeshiva University Museum in the Jewish History Center in N.Y., was the site of a gala reception honoring two of Polish Jewry’s greatest friends, Mr. Sigmund Rolat and Wayne Zuckerman.

 

         The exhibit was the perfect setting for the reception. Large pictures of pre-Holocaust Jewish life in Poland hung on the walls and from the ceilings showing life as it should be. Families going about their lives, children at play, portraits and street scenes.

 

         Mr. Sigmund Rolat has been a major benefactor to the Jewish community in Poland today helping with many programs throughout the country. Michael Berkowicz said of Mr. Rolat, “He is a guiding light for the Museum of the History of Jews in Poland.” After many years of planning, the project will finally have a groundbreaking ceremony on June 26.

 

         He also was instrumental in bringing the exhibit, “And I Still See Their Faces,” to N.Y.

 

         Closest to his heart though is his birthplace, Czestochowa. Mr. Rolat has undertaken the task of restoring the cemetery as well as working with the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants. Last year he led a group of more than 200 people back to Czestochowa where they toured the old Jewish community sites as well as places relating to the Shoah. There was a ceremony at the cemetery, as well as a march from the gathering point to the Umschlagplatz, the train platform from which the Jews of Czestochowa were sent to their deaths at Treblinka.

 

         Mr. Rolat also aims for the future. He believes that education breeds understanding and has created a program, “Inspired by Jewish Culture,” a fine arts program for Polish high school students to create artwork inspired by Jewish themes. The program, initiated in Czestochowa, has spread through the country with great success.

 


Mr. Sigmund Rolat leading a tour of the Hasag factory during the Sukkot gathering of The World Society of Czestochowa Jews.

 

         Mr. Rolat’s affiliations are many and diverse. He sits on the board of Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture; the American Society for Jewish Heritage in Poland; the Krakow Jewish Festival; the Shalom Foundation; the forum for Dialogue Among The Nations; Ben Gurion University of the Negev; The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies; and the Florence and Chafetz National Advisory Board.

 

         Also honored was Wayne Zuckerman, whose philanthropic interests and activities focus on Israel and Jewish community issues. He is a member of advisory boards of many local and national organizations including: Israel Bonds; United Jewish Appeal; MetroWest, New Jersey; The Florence and Chafetz Hillel House at Boston University; and the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington D.C.

 

         The evening was a great success. People came from three continents to pay homage to Mr. Rolat and Mr. Zuckerman. Rabbi Joseph Polal came from Boston where he has been director of Hillel at Boston University for many years. The Hillel House was the first American venue for the exhibit and has been in the forefront of Holocaust education.

 

         Ambassador Shevach Weiss came from Israel. He is the former speaker of Knesset; as well as Israel ambassador to Poland; and president of Yad Vashem. Marian Turski came from Poland where he is the chairman of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and editor of the Politika magazine in Poland. Michael Berkowicz MC’d the evening. He is the chairman of the N.Y. region for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, North America and is a founding member of the Friends of the Krakow Jewish Festival.

 

         Golda Tencer, the curator of the exhibit and founder of the Shalom Foundation, also attended. She was responsible for the amazing collection of photos that had been hidden, scattered among non-Jews but now brought back to light to be seen by the world.

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The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

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September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

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