Craig Kaufman, first vice president of the American Jewish Committee’s Atlanta regional board, recently joined a group of AJC leaders from across the country during a visit to Poland to foster Polish-Jewish communication.
The delegation was hosted by the Forum for Dialogue, the largest and oldest Polish nongovernmental organization engaging in Polish-Jewish dialogue, and a longtime partner of AJC.
Kaufman was one of the 10 leaders that traveled with AJC on a weeklong study tour of Poland that has taken place for almost two decades.
The tour was organized by the Forum for Dialogue and sponsored by Polish Friends of the Forum, said Leah Berkowitz Gross, AJC assistant director, leadership development.
“Through unique access to top-level decision makers and analysts, participants gain insight into the country’s complex past, Jewish history, culture, political atmosphere, and role in European and transatlantic affairs, while also meeting with their local counterparts – Polish alumni of the exchange program.”
Participants also explored a range of topics, such as anti-Semitism, the relationship between Poles and Americans, and Poland’s foreign policy in relation to Israel and the U.S.
The group visited Warsaw, Lublin, the site of the former German Nazi death camps at Belzec, Krakow, Auschwitz-Birkenau and the Ulma Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews.
The group also was able to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Maciej Lang and presented an open letter about the appointment of a new director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. “More than a month has elapsed now since the selection committee’s decision was announced and no formal steps have been taken by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage,” the letter from AJC regional board members stated. “This is disappointing and causes our deep concern. As friends of Poland, the last thing we want to see is a deterioration of these relations.”
Over the years the AJC exchange program has produced hundreds of ambassadors for Polish-Jewish dialogue on both sides of the Atlantic. Typically, AJC leaders go to Poland. Gross said, “They don’t come to Atlanta, but AJC brings Polish leaders to Washington, D.C., Boston, and NYC to meet with American Jewish leaders in the business, political, academic and media sectors to provide an in-depth analysis of the issues facing world Jewry.”