Launch of the Legacy program

fot. Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

On Sunday January 17, POLIN Museum launches a series of programs dedicated to Polish Jews who made outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences, economics, politics, and other fields in the 19th and 20th centuries. These programs will culminate with the opening of the Legacy gallery, an extension of the Core Exhibition, which presents the thousand-year history of Polish Jews.

The year 2020 was filled with surprise and uncertainty. Who could have imagined that what we experienced last year would bring us closer to the history of Polish Jews? We had planned to open the new Legacy gallery, which showcases the fascinating lives and achievements of Polish Jews, now.  Those featured in this Legacy gallery and in the accompanying book and programs also lived through times of great uncertainty and change. Their fates reflect the Jewish historical experience of the modern period: acculturation, assimilation, openness to the wider world, participation in new social and political movements, the emergence of secular Jewish culture, migration, and ultimately the Holocaust. Polish and Jewish, they had to contend with limitations and obstacles, but also saw new opportunities. Their contributions to Polish and Jewish culture and to world civilization are a legacy for humanity. Although some of these individuals left Poland or were distant from Jewish life, Polish Jewish values influenced their life choices in no small measure.

The Legacy gallery story features Ida Kamińska, doyenne of the Yiddish theatre; Arnold Szyfman, founder of modern Polish theatre institutions; Arthur Rubinstein, virtuoso pianist; Bronisław Huberman, violinist and founder of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, which became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Henryk Wars, celebrated composer of hit tunes and film scores; Samuel Goldwyn, one of the last Hollywood moguls; Alexander Ford, filmmaker; Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish writer, Nobel laureate; Bruno Schulz, writer and artist; Julian Tuwim, poet; Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Hebrew writer, Nobel laureate; Henryk Berlewi, artist; Alina Szapocznikow, sculptor; Rosa Luxemburg, revolutionary; David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister; Moses Schorr, rabbi, historian, and  Member of the Parliament in Poland; Joseph Rotblat, physicist, peace activist, Nobel laureate; Raphael Lemkin, inventor of the concept and word “genocide”; Ludwik Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto; Abraham Stern, inventor; Leopold Kronenberg, industrialist and "father" of the railway in the Kingdom of Poland); Helena Rubinstein, early creator of a cosmetics empire; Janusz Korczak, educator and physician; Sarah Schenirer, founder of modern schools for Orthodox girls; and Helene Deutsch, pioneered the psychoanalytic study of women. 

The accompanying programs will feature discussions and debates about these individuals and many others and offer opportunities to experience their achievements – their compositions, films, theatre performances, literary works, and much else – in concerts, guided tours, and family workshops.

The lives and achievements of Polish Jews show that even in uncertain times it is possible to overcome adversity, worth striving towards a goal, and important to take responsibility for oneself and others. May the legacy of these distinguished individuals encourage and inspire us through their example and offer an opportunity to reflect on our own roots and aspirations.

Join the Legacy program throughout 2021!