The Jan Karski and Pola Nireńska Prize, established in 1992 by Jan Karski and administered by YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, is presented in recognition of research on Polish-Jewish relationships and documentation of Jewish contribution to Polish culture.
Professor Szymon Rudnicki spoke on behalf of the jury, while dr hab. Alina Molisak from the University of Warsaw delivered a laudation for the laureate.
Jury of the Jan Karski and Pola Nireńska Prize 2018: Prof. Paweł Śpiewak (Director, Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw), Jonathan Brent PhD (Executive Director, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research), Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov PhD, Prof. Szymon Rudnicki and Joachim S. Russek PhD.
Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota graduated in philosophy from Warsaw University and completed postgraduate studies at the Institute of Applied Linguistics. She worked at an academic publishing house and at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Since 1997 she has been working as a columnist and associate editor of the Jewish magazine „Midrasz”. She has translated about 40 books (from French, Russian and Yiddish) and published five books of her own: Mocą przepasały swe biodra: portrety kobiet żydowskich (They girded their loins with strength: portraits of Jewish women, 2006), Znalazłam wczorajszy dzień: moja osobista tradycja żydowska (Found my yesterday: my personal Jewish tradition, 2009), Cenniejsze niż perły: portrety kobiet żydowskich (More precious than pearls: portraits of Jewish women, 2010) and Księga kobiet — kobiety księgi: komentarze do Tory (The Book of Women – The Women of the Book. Torah Commentaries, 2014). The fifth book W poszukiwaniu złotego jabłka (In search of the golden apple, 2016), was written and edited together with her daughter Róża Ziątek-Czarnota and her sister Dorota Szwarcman and included a CD with Yiddish family songs. Her most recent project is an anthology of translations from Yiddish women’s poetry, Moja dzika koza (My wild goat, forthcoming 2018) co-edited with Joanna Lisek and Karolina Szymaniak.
Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota’s books combine, in an unique way, a thorough knowledge of the Bible and the Jewish tradition as well as her deep and personal relationship to the Yiddish language and culture. She has published a number of articles on various aspects of Yiddish literature and was crucial in familiarizing Polish audience with works of various Yiddish authors (including Y. L. Peretz and Menachem Kipnis). In 2011–2012 she hold a Rachel and Abraham Melezin Fellowship at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and in 2016 she was awarded Rev. Stanislaw Musial Award in appreciation for her contribution to the Christian-Jewish and Polish-Jewish dialogue.