Meet Our Members - Agnieszka, Weronika & Anna!

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Agnieszka has a degree in biology but currently she works in real estate and renovation of buildings. She is interested in design, architecture, and the history of Krakow. She is a cinema aficionado, a cat person, and a traveler who likes discovering new places on her trips. She has a twin sister.

Weronika, Agnieszka’s daughter, likes cooking and discovering new cuisines; she is especially fond of Asian cuisine. Just as her mother and aunt Anna, Weronika is passionate about discovering the unknown history of their family. She regularly campaigns for improving the welfare of farm animals. Her British Shorthair Sven is her most treasured friend.

Anna, Agnieszka’s sister, is a clinical psychologist. She started working on clinical trials of new drugs together with her father, who was a professor of psychiatry and worked as the head of the Department and Clinic of Psychiatry in Krakow. She has been married for 26 years. She has a 22-year-old son, who currently lives and studies in England. Together with her sister, she enjoys travelling around the world as well as discovering new places in and around Krakow. She is interested in medicine, biology, and popular culture. Agnieszka and Anna were raised in an atheist family. Therefore, they are more interested in Judaism from a cultural than a religious standpoint. Before discovering their Jewish roots and becoming JCC members, they have attended various events organized by the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow and have expressed their interest in Jewish culture.

Meet Our Volunteers - Agnieszka & Kuba!


Each month, we share a blog post about the Volunteer of the Month featured in our JCC 2017 calendar. The calendar showcases the young adults, most of whom are not Jewish, who spend their time volunteering at the JCC to help us rebuild Jewish life in Krakow. 

This month, we introduce you to our December Volunteers, Agnieszka & Kuba! They both started out as volunteers and now are full-time staff members of the JCC.

1) Where are you from?

Kuba: I come from a small town in the northern part of Poland.

Agnieszka: I'm originally from Krakow - as we say, a true Krakowianka. I was raised in a non-Jewish family in the Jewish district of Krakow, Kazimierz, a place filled with pre-war synagogues and traces of Jewish life and heritage. Now Kazimierz is a modern renovated district where history meets contemporary living, a trendy neighbourhood, but when I was growing up it was different, very rundown. It’s been amazing to watch these streets change.


2) Why did you decide to volunteer at the JCC?

Kuba: My parents always wanted me to learn more about the world and other cultures. They taught me to treat others with honor and respect. That’s probably one of the reasons why I decided to major in Middle-Eastern studies at the Jagiellonian University. In 2014, I spent the summer in Israel interning at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv. Upon return, I decided to become a volunteer at the JCC because I wanted to broaden my knowledge of Jewish history and culture.

Agnieszka: Growing up in Kazimierz, I became interested in Jewish history and culture. When I found out that for a thousand years Jews were a major part of Polish history, when I learned more about the Holocaust, I felt that something was missing from my history, my environment, my neighbourhood. I felt a void, I felt I would never be able to experience Jewish life here. But then I found out about the JCC, and that gave me the opportunity to meet and join the local Jewish community and help rebuild Jewish life, learn about Shabbat not only from books but by experiencing it with JCC members. And then I was lucky enough to get a job at the JCC! 

3) What is your best JCC memory/the person you met/the experience you had?

Kuba: Volunteering at the JCC was an excellent way to meet many interesting people, to exchange ideas and opinions with them, and hear their views on a variety of subjects.

Agnieszka: My friend Olga found out about her Jewish roots when she was 12 years old. As a student, she joined the JCC, and for the first time ever she learned how to properly celebrate Pesach in accordance with Jewish tradition. Olga cleaned her house from chametz, and I was the one to whom she sold it! She’s never thought she'll be able to lead a Jewish life, and I’ve never thought I will be able to experience Jewish life in my hometown! 


4) What is one of your favourite things at the JCC?

Kuba: Every day spent at the JCC was a unique and interesting experience that taught me something new. That, and the community itself, are the best things about this Centre.

Agnieszka: Being part of JCC Krakow’s Ride For The Living has been one of the most profound and moving experiences of my life. In 2017, during the 4th edition of the Ride, over 160 participants from all around the world biked 55 miles from Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow to celebrate the revival of Jewish life in Poland. For the third year in a row, we were joined by Marcel Zielinski, a 83-year-old Holocaust Survivor who was just 10 years old at the time of Auschwitz liberation and had to walk back to Krakow searching for his family. He came back to Poland for Ride For The Living to retrace that route on a bike, this year -  with his son and two granddaughters. I am still overwhelmed by all the love and support I have received during Ride For The Living, and I couldn't have been happier or felt more fulfilled. I am grateful to all Riders, my amazing JCC Krakow team, and everyone who has ever supported the Ride. I hope to see you all in 2018! 

Meet Our Volunteer - Ania!

Each month, we share a blog post about the Volunteer of the Month featured in our JCC 2017 calendar. The calendar showcases the young adults, most of whom are not Jewish, who spend their time volunteering at the JCC to help us rebuild Jewish life in Krakow. 

This month, we introduce you to our November Volunteer, Ania! Learn more about what inspired Ania to get involved with the JCC!


Where are you from?
I’m from Krakow.

Why did you decide to volunteer at the JCC?
I decided to join the volunteer program at the JCC because I wanted to learn more about Judaism and to get to know the Jewish community of Krakow better.


What is your best JCC memory/the person you met/the experience you had?
I have a lot of best JCC memories, it is impossible to pick just one. Every JCC memory is among my best. Since I became a volunteer at the JCC, I have met so many wonderful people here, people who have taught me a lot. We’re all one big family here, and it is this unique atmosphere that made me continue with the program for another year. 



What is one of your favourite things at the JCC?
This special atmosphere at the JCC - I like it the best. Everyone is so friendly, and helpful, and nice. I like to work at the reception, too, because it gives me the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world.


JCC Krakow celebrates opening of Early Childhood Center "Frajda"


JCC Krakow celebrated the opening of its Early Childhood Center, Frajda, today. A ribbon cutting
ceremony officially marked the first time in over half a century that a pluralistic Jewish nursery school has opened its doors in Krakow. Frajda was made possible through the generous lead grant of Eric and Erica Schwartz of New York City, who spoke at the ceremony about the revival of Jewish life. “The preschool years are the ideal time for learning about Jewish culture, values, and traditions. We are so pleased to make it possible for Krakow’s Jewish families to send their children to a school that focuses on providing this foundation for the youngest members of the community,” Erica Schwartz said.

JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, President of the Jewish Religious Congregation of Krakow Tadeusz Jakubowicz, and Frajda parent Ewa Kodymowska also offered remarks at the ceremony. “I am thrilled to see Krakow’s Jewish children learning together in a Jewish school,” Schudrich said. “Today is a special day in our community’s history. I salute the Schwartzes, Friends of JCC Krakow, and the JCC for bringing this amazing project to fruition.”

Consul General of the United States in Krakow Walter Braunohler attended the ceremony with his mother and two daughters. “I’m incredibly proud of the friendship that we have with the JCC,” he said. “With the opening of Frajda, we are investing in young people for the sake of Polish Jewish heritage.”

Polish Undersecretary of State Wojciech Kolarski, President of the World Jewish Congress Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, and Elizabeth Szancer, donor of Frajda’s Szancer Family Reading Corner, provided remarks to be read in their absence.

The Early Childhood Center’s name, Frajda, means “joy” in both Yiddish and Polish. Created in
consultation with leading Jewish early childhood education experts from Poland, the United States, and Israel, Frajda’s state-of-the art facility can serve up to 22 students. Three dedicated teachers will deliver instruction this year, and the JCC will provide transportation to students from across the city.

The outdoor Taube Family Playground and the Shana Penn Garden to be opened in Spring 2018 will be sponsored by Taube Philanthropies and will augment Frajda’s activities. Frajda’s annual security needs will be underwritten by The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.

Frajda’s opening would not have been possible without the contributions of Jeff and Janet Beck, Alan and Cindy Golman, Susan Lerner and Michael Roffer, Sam and Gina Rosenberg, Judy Wolf-Nevid, Michelle Ores, Elizabeth Szancer, Agi Legutko, and the entire Friends of JCC Krakow board.

The JCC is immeasurably grateful to Eric and Erica Schwartz, as well as to these friends and supporters from around the world whose love and dedication enabled the establishment of Frajda. Their enthusiastic support will help future generations of Jewish Poles to connect with Jewish traditions, holidays, history, and values from the day they are born and to celebrate their Polish Jewish identities.

JCC Krakow was opened in April 2008 by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales. It has quickly
established itself as the focal point of Jewish life for Krakow’s residents, as well as for thousands of visitors from around Poland and the world every month. Today, the JCC has over 650 active Jewish members, including 70 Holocaust survivors.