This is a new project of the Polish/American/Jewish Alliance for Youth Action.
Prejudice, intolerance, anti-semitism are fueled by ignorance. In communist Poland, education was tightly controlled by the state in order to create an understanding of history that served the state's purposes. It has only been since the end of communism in 1989 that Poland has been able to freely educate its citizens. Efforts to teach the Holocaust comprehensively and forthrightly made a major breakthrough in 1999 with the introduction of a formal curriculum. However, attention to basic Jewish culture and contemporary Jewish life in Polish public schools still does not exist. Polish young people continue to lack the most rudimentary understanding of Judaism and have as an image of Jews, if they have one at all, one that comes from photographs of life in pre-World War II Poland or from news bites on TV. Such lack of basic information is at the root of misunderstandings which often lead to intolerance, prejudice and ultimately anti-semitism.
The problem is not anti-semitism in today's Poland. The problem is the absence of educational opportunities for young people that will ensure it doesn't become one.
As a corollary to this project, PAJA further believes that a similar insufficiency in knowledge exists amongst most young Jews about Polish history and culture and how it relates to them. Therefore PAJA will actively seek opportunities to develop companion educational vehicles and encourage greater and more accurate education on Polish culture, history and current development in American schools, especially those with large Jewish student populations.