Re: TSKZ #galicia

Alexander Sharon

----- Original Message -----

Counting the Jews who presently exist in Poland by membership in TSKZ isn't
exactly accurate. TSKZ is strictly a secular Jewish organization.
Religious Jews aren't affiliated with TSKZ as it doesn't serve their needs.
Also, TSKZ is remembered bitterly by some in the Jewish community because as
it received it's funding and support during the communist years >from the
government, it was also used by the government to spy on the Jewish
community and keep it in line with government policies.

Counting Jews in Poland is a very controversial and difficult business.
I've seen the count as high as 30,000 ethnic Jews (Lauder Foundation) and as
low as zero (Polish tourguides). Probably, if TSKZ lists it's membership at
3,000, and there are maybe a couple thousand religious Jews on top of that,
plus some non affiliated Jews who maintain some aspect of their Jewish
identity in their lives, the figure is probably between 5,000 - 10,000. And
growing. More Poles are discovering their Jewish roots and becoming
involved in Judaism.

BTW I'm not an certified historian or anything. I just spent two years
outside Warsaw as a Peace Corps volunteer, that's how I know what I know.
Linda Muller
I am afraid Linda that you are confusing issues.

I have mentioned name of TSKZ in Poland and I am a bit surprised that you
have delivered such harsh judgment to the best Jewish organization >from the
former Soviet block countries.

During the time when Jewish religious life in the Soviet block did not
exist, TSKZ did it best to upkeep our Jewish heritage.
Every large and medium town had TSKZ branch and a club where Jewish kids
could meet and play after school hours and celebrate Jewish Holidays.
TSKZ has been supervising several Jewish Elementary, Junior and High schools
(Lodz, Szczecin, Wroclaw, Walbrzych, Dzierzoniow, Zary).
In towns without the Jewish schools, Yiddish lessons and Jewish history have
been taught in TSKZ clubs, alongside an assistance in daily school subjects.
Jewish newspaper, daily Folks Shtyme, and its supplements: literally
"Yiddishn Shriftn" and Polish "Nasz Glos" have been serving Jewish
communities across Poland.
TSKZ brought regularly to our towns plays performed in Yiddish by The Warsaw
Esther Rachel Kaminski Jewish Theatre.

Long before Marsh of Living took the place, it was TSKZ that have organized
March (commemorating Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) Visits to the death camps (not
only Auschwitz) and all the members of TSKZ have been engaged in cleaning
Jewish cemeteries in their towns. It was TSKZ that have supplied labor and
money to upkeep Jewish cemeteries since tiny kehilat had no resources. TSKZ
in fact was the Jewish Centre of our daily life in Poland

A needed high school and university students have received not refundable
financial assistance >from TSKZ. Social assistance has been also provided by
the TSKZ social workers.

ORT has been always in Poland teaching Jews new and profitable professions
and organizing cooperatives.

The most important activities of TSKZ for all of us have been the summer
camps. Every summer TSKZ with the great financial assistance >from HIAS
(JIAS) have organized several Jewish youth and student camps. All of us have
attended those camp as the campers and as we have been growing up as
counselors for our youngsters. Camps gave us the opportunity to meet other
Jewish youths and this has resulted in many of us dating and later marrying
out camps sweethearts.

Long lasting friendships have been developed during meetings at TSKZ clubs
and at summer or winter camps. Some 40+ years later we still keep in touch,
and every four years we are, several thousands people, are meeting in

Situation with the services in synagogues was tragic indeed. It was even
difficult to collect a minyan to conduct the services. Many of us have
volunteer attendance during shuls Shabbat services.

We all left in 1968/69 when Polish government accused Polish Jewry of being
5th "Zionist"column. Newspapers and schools were closed down, Gentile Poles
were performing in Yiddish in the Jewish National Theatre.

In September 1986 issue of the National Geographic, Malgorzata Niezabitowska
and Tomasz Tomaszewski have published "Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland".
Authors have estimated that about 5,000 Jews, mostly very old people have
left in Poland.

We have been very surprised that some years later Lauder Foundation have
discovered Jews in Poland. Perhaps harsh capitalistic realities of the new,
the post communist Poland have made some people to volunteer their

One have to reside in the reality of the communistic country to realize how
difficult was for our parents, Holocaust survivors to preserve our Jewish
It was done an old Bund way.

Current situation of Jews in Poland:

TSKZ lists membership of 3,000 and this is confirmed by their website in
English at:

Branches of TSKZ are located in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Lodz, Katowice, Bielsko
Biala, Gliwice, Zary, Walbrzych, Czestochowa, Lublin, Szczecin, Cracow,

The Union of Religious Jewish Communities lists 2,000 members and this is
also confirmed by their website also in English at:

Communities exist in Katowice (with branches in Bielsko-Biala, Bytom,
Czestochowa, Gliwice), Legnica, Lodz, Szczecin (with a branch in Kolobrzeg),
Wroclaw (branches in: DzierzoniĆ³w, Walbrzych, Zary), Gdansk, Cracow and
Warsaw (branches in Lublin and Bialystok).

Alexander Sharon
Calgary, Alberta

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