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JDC Archives Webinar by Anna Sommer Schneider: Yiddishkeit and JDC’s support for Jewish Education in Communist Poland | Workshop


History Jewish studies


Jewish education, just like the life of Jewish survivors in post-Holocaust Poland, was constantly challenged. Among many factors affecting Jewish learning in Communist Poland, was emigration, demographic changes (including low birthrates) and intermarriage. Many Holocaust survivors also tried to hide or even abandon their Jewish identity for fear of being stigmatized, therefore, often choosing public education over Jewish curriculum for their children. All these factors didn’t discourage the leadership of JDC to facilitate Jewish education and strengthen the importance of Yiddishkeit among Jewish youngsters. Over decades of Communist rule in Poland, JDC launched numerous educational programs which not only fostered Jewish education but also reinforced a sense of Jewishness among younger generations of Polish Jews.  JDC leaders were able to accomplish these goals not only through the financial assistance, but also their relationship with political-decision makers in Poland.

Anna Sommer Schneider is Associate Professor of the Practice of Jewish Civilization at the Center for Jewish Civilization of Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She also served as Associate Director for the Center. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.  She is the author of She’erit Hapletah: Surviving Remnant. The Activities of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Poland, 1945-1989 (published in Polish), and co-author with Linda Levi of Rescue, Relief and Renewal: 100 Years of the Joint in Poland. She is also the author of numerous scholarly and critical articles on Holocaust memory, the history of the Jews in post-World War II Poland and history of anti-Semitism, published both in Polish and English. She served as a Research Assistant at the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and has lectured frequently in Poland and America. She also served as an educator and guide at the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim in the years 1998-2018.


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