Science Festival in the JHI

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29th September, Sunday

11:00 – 12:30

Translating the texts of the Holocaust, Ringelblum’s Archives from the perspective of a translator

The Underground Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, whose depositary is the JHI, is a unique collection of documents assembled during the war by the group Oneg Szabat led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum. They are a priceless source of information for research on the history of the Holocaust. The collection, excavated after the war from the debris of the Warsaw Ghetto, in 1999 was listed by UNESCO as the world cultural heritage “Memory of the World”. Currently, the JHI is working on the full edition of the documents of the Archive. It is a big challenge also in terms of translation. During the debate, the co-ordinator of the project as well as the translators co-creating it will talk about the difficulties and dilemmas related to the work with such precious documents. Starting with the physical aspects of the text (its condition, quality, or missing parts) through the variety of language, type and style to philosophical and existential matters. The debate will be accompanied by a presentation of the photographs of the documents.

Prof. Tadeusz Epsztajn, Sara Arm, Marek Tuszewicki, Aleksandra Bańkowska, Monika Polit will take part in the discussion, which will be moderated by dr Lena Bergman.

11:30 – 14:00

Translating sounds into letters: first steps in the Hebrew and Yiddish alphabets

During the workshop we will learn the signs of the Hebrew alphabet and basic rules of its transcriptions and we will practise it. We will check the differences between the Hebrew and Yiddish alphabets, from which the latter is more easily acquired. We will learn basic words and expressions, and at the end, we will play an alphabet game. We invite everyone, from 14 year-olds to 114 year-olds. The workshop will be led by dr Karolina Szymaniak.

It will be possible to join the classes any time.

11:00 – 13:00

A walk around the Jewish Cemetery (meeting point: the gate in Okopowa Street)

During the walk we will learn about the history of the cemetery in Okopowa Street. We will decipher the meaning of the headstones, we will see different types of tombstones and we will learn what Tahara is. Alicja Mroczkowska will be your guide around the cemetery. Men are asked to bring headgear. Volunteers are invited to clean the graves.

15:30 – 16:30

Translating words and images. Jewish avant-garde in Warsaw. A lecture with a presentation of the works of the Jewish avant-garde from the JHI’s collections.

At the beginning of the inter-war period Warsaw became, for a short, intensive time one of the most important centers of the Jewish avant-garde. It was there that pioneering texts on painting or abstract films were printed in Jewish. Artists such as El Lisicki, Henryk Berlewi, Marek Szwarc or Marc Chagall collaborated closely with Yiddish writers such as Perec Markisz or Uri Cwi Grinberg. This artistic revolution was taking place in the center of the Jewish quarter, in the vicinity of today’s headquarters of the Institute. During the meeting we will look closer at the output of this eventful time, especially focusing on the attempts to translate literature into images, and images into literature. We will learn about the typographic and visual experiments and which of them and why they once caused big scandal and got the authors into trouble with the censorship. The lecture will be given by dr Karolina Szymaniak. 

At 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00

Visiting the exhibitions: “ Rav, Rabbi, Rebe.” and “Polish Art and the Holocaust”

The staff of the Department of Art will give a tour around the exhibitions.

14:00 – 15:00

Fanaberie and bachory 

Where do the words “bachor”, “belfer”, “chucpa” come from? About these and other mutual influences of the Polish and Yiddish languages will talk dr Agata Kondrat.

17:00 – 18:00

Censoring the memory: about the falsification of the history during translation

Deliberate falsification of the history, different perspective, or lack of responsibility?What is the reason behind the deliberate changes made into a text during translation? The meeting will be led by dr Helena Datner. In the debate will take part: Ryszard Burek, and dr Agnieszka Żółkiewska, who will talk, among others, about her own experience gained during work on the translation of the book by Rafael Rajzner about the Holocaust of the Bialystok Jews. The book was written in Yiddish (the original title: “DER UMKUM FUN BIALISTOKER JIDNTUM 1939–1945”) but published in English in Melbourne in 1948. 

24th September, Tuesday


The Torah, the foundation of Judaism

On the eve of Simchat Torah holiday we wish to invite you to a lecture devoted to the role of the Torah in Judaism. It will be possible to unravel the mystery around the Torah scrolls and learn about the way of reading the words written in it using Yad. The lecture will be given by dr Paweł Fijałkowski.


The Torah, the foundation of Judaism

Dr Paweł Fijałkowski will introduce you to the secrets of the Torah and the Hebrew alphabet. The lecture will be accompanied by a calligraphic workshop of the Hebrew alphabet lead by Daria Boniecka-Stępień. 

22nd September, Sunday


“Behind the scenes of the Jewish Historical Institute”

For the first time in its history, the JHI wishes to invite you for an unusual visit, during which you will be able to: see the experts of narrow specializations during work, learn the tricks of the trade, see how the unique library catalogue in Hebrew and Yiddish alphabets works, and look into every mysterious nook and cranny of the building, whose rich history could be an inspiration for not only one screenplay. During the tour around the JHI’s building, you will be able to meet the staff of the archives, library, the departments of: genealogy, historical documentation, digitalisation, art and art conservation.


A walk following the traces of the Jewish writers of Warsaw

During the trip it will be possible to see places where Warsaw writers of Jewish descent lived and worked. Jan Jagielski, expert on Jewish Warsaw, will talk about interesting life of the community of poets and writers.

(meeting point: in front of the JHI’s headquarters)

at 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 

Tour around the exhibitions: “Rav, Rabbi, Rebe. Rabbis in Poland” and “Polish Art and the Holocaust”

The staff of the Department of Art will be giving the tour around the exhibitions.

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