Here are several testimonies from the Milwaukee community that joined us for the SHOFAR KRAKOW dedication ceremony.
The Shofar is a symbol of strength and optimism. It is bold and beautiful. - Marsha Sehler
To me, JCC Krakow is the vision of what Judaism in the 21st Century can be - full of life, great programming & education and full of community. Judaism comes alive, is vital and thrives in the JCC. The Shofar in Krakow has a meaning of many things. One, the broken Magen David's becomes whole in the shape of the shofar, just like the Jewish community in Krakow after the War. Two, the music that it makes harkens to the days when it was the sound that announced the calendar. And three, it is a 'Call to Action' for Jewish community.
- Nancy Barnett
Our experience in Kraków was quite profound and in some ways difficult as all of my family lived in Poland before the Holocaust. It was very significant for us to walk through the Jewish district with Helen and Aleksander (Mi Polin) and have Shabbat services at the Galicia Jewish Museum. For me, the trip culminated with blowing the shofar to dedicate the Shofar Kraków sculpture on Selichot and the dedication ceremony.
- Michael Taibelson
In October of 2013 Nina and I joined with friends in a self-designed tour of Jewish Europe and passed through Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Auschwitz, Theresienstadt, and finally Krakow.
We found Jewish History walks, attended services in synagogues and basements, visited sites of terrible mass murders. Everywhere we found signs of new life in new forms of worship, of self-discovered young Jews themselves the children of children hidden away in the war years. There were memorials, museums, bricks, plaques, sculptures, leaflets, maps and sorrows enough to go around in a dozen languages spoken and written.
It was in Krakow where we found hope. Hope is a funny thing: you need it most when it makes the least sense.
This week our Milwaukee Jewish Federation Mission experienced Kazimierz physically close to how it was before the war, when we walked its streets in search of Mezuzah traces. We visited Schindler’s dark factory. We saw old Synagogues watch while tourists in carts zipped through centuries filled with the ghosts of Jewish merchants, musicians, Rabbis, thinkers and students. Krakow is near to Auschwitz as we have sadly learned.
Here stands a great institution, the JCC Krakow that we have come to know and love. Here Jews, now including ourselves, find a place to gather, to heal, to learn, to find themselves. Beyond its walls, a message goes out from the JCC of renewal to the larger Jewish World, as over 8,000 visitors monthly from around the world find their way here. Could our ancestors have imagined the Israeli teenagers and IDF troops who pass through these doors?
While in Krakow I began to think how these themes of remembrance and hope could be given expression by a Jewish artist. Questions of identity expand to fill a vacuum when so many of the living honestly care and are curious...while so few are left to explain the way it was. Focusing this debate is this JCC teaching, guiding, reaching out...not in Eretz Israel but in what can be still be called the diaspora, if infinitely reduced in absolute numbers. And it seems to say, if we can exist here, we can exist… anywhere.
Hannah Rosenthal met with Jonathan Ornstein at the JCC, the brilliant leader at the center of all we have witnessed in Krakow. Jonathan and his staff loved the SHOFAR concept. Jonathan's insight was that the theme should be RETURN rather than remembrance. Thus: SHOFAR KRAKOW: CALL TO RETURN. I created a metal model of SHOFAR KRAKOW and Nina and I returned to Krakow and presented a photographic study and site renderings to Jonathan and his staff who approved. Eight months later we installed the sculpture on July 6th and spoke at and experienced the Jewish Culture Festival attended by 40,000.
- Richard & Nina Edelman