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Poland - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
July 4th, 2002
06:40 pm

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Poland
In five days, I'm going to fly to Poland for an eight-day journey across the land where three of my grandparents were born. I have not been to Poland before, and I'm going with some cousins and other family members, including two of said three grandparents.

In preparation for the trip, I decided to watch some documentary on Poland. I remembered Dotan mentioning a good Hebrew TV documentary called "Po-Lan-Yah" (a Hebrew word-game on one of the variations on the country's name; as three separate words, it roughly means "here lodges God", supposedly signifying a Polish Jewish sentiment (dating to the 18th century or earlier) to the effect that the Jewish life in Poland is so ideal that it seems as if it is where God wanted Jews to await their messiah.

Anyhow, it turns out that my grandfather's nephew is the producer of that documentary, and he offered me his videotapes of the series (about 6 hours total). I've been watching it, episode by episode, this week. Fascinating stuff. I had a rather vague idea of Polish history, and I'm very glad I'm doing this before the trip. I now have a reasonable bird's-eye grasp of the historical and geopolitical changes in Poland's thousand-year history, and can recognize some important names, such as Dabrowski, Matejko, and Chmelnicki (sp?).

This ties in with two inspiring Israelis I've been exposed to recently, both born in Poland: Yoram Bronowski (deceased) and Suzie Russek-Osherov. The Polish descent is an important part in both of their biographies. Both impressed me intellectually and artistically. I hope to write more of both later on.

All that's left is to wonder whether I'll be able to find any moose in Poland, for my collection.

Current Mood: excited
Current Music: Pink Floyd - The Post War Dream

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
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From:avva
Date:July 4th, 2002 08:45 am (UTC)

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Polish is a beautiful language, and Poland is a beautiful country. Have a good trip!
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From:hattie
Date:July 4th, 2002 09:16 am (UTC)

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Wear a sweater!
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From:lukkke
Date:July 4th, 2002 09:30 am (UTC)

I'm sure you'll find

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I found one in Prague.
But beware, this moose can do you lots of guilt feelings...
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From:passacaglio
Date:July 4th, 2002 11:57 am (UTC)

bon voyage

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I watched a movie about zamoschchch (or whatever) - a city where my mother's family descends from. I bet this flourishing 20's little town, a place of intellectuals and politicians is now dust and ashes.

Amir.
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From:veryty
Date:July 6th, 2002 08:45 am (UTC)

Zamosc -- then & there, (t/here) and now?

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I don't have ancestors from Zamosc (in Hebrew, zayin-mem-vav-shin-tsade sofit-geresh: zamoshch? probably closer to the Yiddish pronunciation; I'll use the current conventional spelling); mine are from elsewhere (in Poland among other places) and left long ago, so I'm not a child/grandchild of survivors.
So I hope you don't mind my borrowing your thoughts for my musings here.

Unless we know that the town and/or its Jewish quarter was razed to the ground, it's ever so likely that the scene today is not a barren wasteland standing in mute testimony to what once was and is no more.

Rather, the local Poles probably moved on in at some convenient opportunity and are carrying on just-fine-thank-you as though the Jewish presence was never anything more than negligible.

Google gave me GoPoland! Web Travel Guide,
which invites contemporary tourists:
" If Italy's beyond your budget, try Zamosc: its Renaissance Italianate architecture and assorted other sights come a close second to the real thing... "

So how do you think of Zamosc today? Perhaps what truly "remains" of Zamosc is just that: what _you, Amir Vaxman_ think of it -- and _that_ you think of it.

Poland's not on my personal (travel) itinerary, but it's on my agenda. I'm glad/grateful to be able to get close to the Poland that matters to me, that of our ancestors, in libraries and archives, and appreciative that I've come to have ample access to those -- and even, in my way, contribute to the process of commemorating.
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From:passacaglio
Date:July 6th, 2002 10:24 am (UTC)

Re: Zamosc -- then & there, (t/here) and now?

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Wise words. I exaggerated when saying "Dust and ashes". Zamosc lives, that is certain. Yet it is what it is - a Polish town of historical value (which probably will make it, in time if not already, a "tourists' pearl" of Poland). It is still a city of the past.

I can't tell, yet I believe communism had a lot to do with keeping the place as it was after WWII.
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From:ijon
Date:July 7th, 2002 07:18 am (UTC)

Re: Zamosc -- then & there, (t/here) and now?

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>It is still a city of the past.

That's a little insensitive of you. No doubt, plenty of people still live in Zamosc, no less real than the Jews who used to live there and are now gone. Saying it's a city of the past strikes me as very haughty. It is certainly a city with a past, and it may be only a city of the past to you, but surely the number of Jews in residence is not the only criterion for a city's relevance and very existence.
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From:passacaglio
Date:July 7th, 2002 09:04 am (UTC)

Re: Zamosc -- then & there, (t/here) and now?

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I didn't stress out what I ment, my fault:

When I said "city of the past", I ment in terms of culture and intellectual flourishing. Sure, People live their lives today just as they did then, but it was not my point.

BTW: when speaking of that past, it cannot be said that only jews were the active bunch and, once gone, it all froze. The people of Zamosc were not homogenous at the time.

Amir.
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From:ijon
Date:July 13th, 2002 02:46 am (UTC)

Re: Zamosc -- then & there, (t/here) and now?

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Guess what? I've been to Zamosc two days ago. Nice town. The big synagogue has been converted into a public library.
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From:passacaglio
Date:July 13th, 2002 09:37 am (UTC)

Re: Zamosc -- then & there, (t/here) and now?

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What more can you tell?
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From:ijon
Date:July 18th, 2002 05:40 am (UTC)

Zamosc

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Not much. It hasn't been seriously damaged by WWII, it is still a medium-sized town, and there are very few remains of Jewish life in it.

The synagogue, as I wrote, still stands, the structure undamaged. The interior is lightly damaged (some decorations painted on the wall have been scraped off), and the great prayer hall is now a public library. It looks very jarring, very disharmonic; narrow aisles among stuffed library bookshelves, and high, high above the top of the shelves, the arched ceiling of a Jewish house of prayer, including Jewish motifs painted on the ceiling.

I've only spent about two hours in Zamosc, so I can't tell you much more.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 7th, 2002 01:52 pm (UTC)

famous artist Suzie Russek-Osherov

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Dear Mr Bartov,
to my great surprise I read in your posting your mentioning the great artist Suzie Russek-Osherov, whom I have met many years ago during a summer academy of the painter Ernst Fuchs in Austria. I was very impressed by her works, both lyrics as well as oil-paintings.
In case you see her again, may I ask you to give my best wishes and greetings to her? You would do me a great favour, many thanks in advance!
Yours faithfully
Rudolf Faustmann
http://free.pages.at/machaon/
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From:ijon
Date:September 9th, 2002 06:22 am (UTC)

Re: famous artist Suzie Russek-Osherov

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Yes, she's wonderful. I've delivered your message.
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