Meshugoyim - Forging A Jewish + non-Jewish Partnership

JCC Krakow has a robust volunteer program with over 50 volunteers (most of them not Jewish) which play a critical role in the shaping our Jewish community. Volunteers go through a thorough screening process including an application, interview, test, and intensive orientation to learn about the JCC and about Jewish customs and culture. Our volunteers wear many hats; they help with Jewish holidays, Shabbat dinners, reception duties, and administrative support, and play an important part in our community-wide events such as Ride For The Living, the Jewish Culture Festival, and 7@nite – Night of the Synagogues! You will find our volunteers smiling and laughing with all of our community members and visitors every day of the week.

Our volunteers are not only active in the JCC community, but also teach about contemporary Jewish life around Poland. With our Jewish Student Club GIMEL, they created the outreach program Mifgash Educational Group. Mifgash organizes workshops and lectures for young Poles in elementary, middle, and high school to educate on both historical and contemporary Jewish life. By reaching Poles who live where there are no Jewish communities, they are reversing many stereotypes that have proliferated since post‐war and Communist Poland.

What inspired these young adults to volunteer their time at JCC Krakow? If we take a look back at Krakow between 1968 and the JCC’s opening in 2008, Krakow did not have a visible Jewish community. Jewish culture was something appreciated as a piece of the past, through cultural events with no actual Jews. When the JCC opened, young Poles who were interested not only in Jewish culture but also in helping to rebuild the community began to volunteer. 

Get to know some of our new and seasoned volunteers and find out what inspires them about JCC Krakow to volunteer!

Aleksandra, 22, Student

After learning about our volunteer program from a classmate, Aleksandra decided to get involved because it combined her desire to do do something good for the world and her growing interest in Jewish culture. Aleksandra loves volunteering at the JCC because of its unique atmosphere and for the opportunity to meet interesting people from both the local community and all over the world. She is from southern Poland and moved to Krakow for university; even though she sometimes gets homesick, she never feels that way at the JCC - it has become her new family and gives her a feeling of belonging in a new city. Aleksandra loves celebrating the holidays with the community and, to her, the JCC is simply the best place in the whole world.

Magdalena, 25

In 2009, Magda came to the JCC to learn Yiddish and quickly became friends with many of our students and volunteers. She learned about the volunteer program and she thought it would be a great opportunity to be more involved at the JCC. By spending her time as a volunteer at the JCC, she's expanded her horizons about other cultures and religions and also has met some really great people. 

Justyna, 18, University Student 

Justyna, a Krakow-native, learned about the JCC from her friends. For her, Jewish culture is rooted in the history of Krakow and in Poland. Justyna feels that Jewish life and culture is very present in Krakow, but at the same time is easily forgotten. She sees the JCC's existence as the biggest reason Jewish culture remains vivid. Being a volunteer here is the best way for her to get to know about the Jewish culture, customs, traditions and religion. Justyna is looking forward to getting to know many interesting people and hear about their unique family history. 

Weronika, 22

Weronika was introduced to the JCC by a friend who was volunteering and came to many workshops and events. Weronika decided to become a volunteer because she wants to learn and be a part of the Jewish society in Krakow through ways of community service and social work. She is looking forward to meeting new, interesting people and participating in Jewish holidays. 

Maja, 18, High School Student

After studying Hebrew at the JCC and speaking to an old friend who is a volunteer, Maja decided becoming a JCC volunteer was exactly what she was looking for! Maja wants to help rebuild Krakow's Jewish community and she thinks it is something truly beautiful that so many people want to be involved. Maja has become great friends with her co-volunteers, community members, and tourists. She also likes that is has helped her to develop her knowledge of other cultures and customer service skills. 

Eugeniusz, 28, University Student & Tour Guide 

Eugeniusz is from Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine and heard about the JCC volunteer program through Facebook. Eugeniusz decided to apply to learn more about how a non-profit organization operates and to help Krakow's Jews grow their community. Eugeniusz is looking forward to developing his personal skills, learn more about Jewish culture, and meet new people who have similar interests as him.

Joanna, 20

In her first year of high school, Joanna had the opportunity to learn Hebrew. She really enjoyed learning the language and about Jewish culture. When the class ended, she still had a desire to learn more. When she moved to Krakow, a few of her friends were volunteers at the JCC and told her about the program. She went on JCC's website to found out more information about the program and told herself " You should definitely apply!" and she became one of the volunteers! Being a volunteer gives her the chance to learn Judaism and practice her Hebrew which she is continuing to learn at the JCC. Wholeheartedly, Joanna is hoping to develop and grow as an adult during the time she spends at JCC. She is looking forward to meeting new people, make new friendships and extend her knowledge of Jewish culture.

Katarzyna, 23, University Student of Russian Philosophy

Katarzyna learned about the JCC during the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. When she got home, she looked at JCC Krakow's website and read about the volunteer program. She decided to apply to enrich her knowledge of Jewish culture and contemporary Jewish life. Katarzyna is looking forward to volunteering at the JCC and expanding her personal interest in Judaism. 

Eliza, 40, Tour Guide 

While guiding a year ago, Eliza's tourists wanted to visit the JCC and learn more about Krakow's Jewish community in Krakow. That's when she learned that she could be a part of the JCC community as a volunteer. She has always been interested in Jewish culture since she was in high school. To her, the JCC is one of the best places to learn about Judaism, Jewish life in Krakow, and Jewish culture. It has also helped her to be a better guide for her Jewish tourists. 

Anna, 22, University Student of Computer Science

Anna learned about JCC's volunteer program through the JCC's Facebook page. She decided to become a volunteer because helping at the JCC would be a wonderful chance to meet new people, hear their stories, gain practical knowledge about Jewish religion and culture, and to learn new skills. It is because of the JCC's atmosphere and environment that Anna has signed on for another year. The JCC is filled with fantastic and inspiring people and she is glad that she is also a part of this community.