Platform for Jewish-Polish Dialogue  

Polish First Lady Maria Kaczyńska and Holocaust Survivor Introduce Americans to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews Currently Built in Warsaw

The First Lady of the Republic of Poland, Madame Maria Kaczyńska, acting as special envoy for the President of Poland, the Polish Foreign Minister, Radosław Sikorski, and Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, a secretary of state in the President's Chancellery, were warmly welcomed by Holocaust survivors and their descendants at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, at an event hosted by The North American Council for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and Rabbi Arthur Schneier.

More than 150 people attended the September 25 reception to meet the First Lady, who introduced them to the Museum's mission, and watched as the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State posthumously awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic, Poland's highest honor, to Irena Gut, who had hidden 12 Jews under the noses of the Nazis in Tarnopol during the Holocaust. Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, a secretary of state in the President's Chancellery, read the special address from Lech Kaczyński, the President of the Republic of Poland.

The medal was accepted by Gut's daughter, Jeannie Smith of Seattle. A benefit performance of the play about her mother, "Irena's Vow" starring Tovah Feldshuh, followed at the Baruch Center for Performing Arts. Also attending the ceremony was Roman Haller, director of the Claims Conference Successor Organization in Munich—who was born in Gut's hiding place after she convinced his mother not to end her pregnancy.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews extends its thanks to all who have contributed to the organization of two events: Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Sigmund A. Rolat, Chairman of the Museum’s North American Council, Michael Berkowicz and Lilka Elbaum from the Council, Albert and Sylvia Safer, Larry Levy and Lewis Family Trust. Special thanks to Tovah Feldshuh and whole theatre cust, Monika Fabjiańska, the Director of the Polish Cultural institute in NY and all the rest of the event’s supporters.