On July 12, 2006, PAJA president Dennis Misler sent in the following letter from Poland:
I am happy to report that we just completed our inaugural year of the Rodeph Sholom PAJA Youth Leadership Program in Poland.
Two university students from Congregation Rodeph Sholom spent two very productive weeks with us here in Krakow. They were Alex and Amy Pearlman from New York City. They attend the University of Rochester (NY) and Cornell, respectively. They each lived with a Polish student. All four students have gained an enormous amount of information and understanding from the experience as have all the Poles, Jews and others who encountered any of them.
I have attached a couple of photos.
The first photo is from a grill we had at the home of Ania Rataj, Alex's companion and host, in Bochnia, an hour outside of Krakow. That is Ania's mom and dad in the photo as well as my friend Awa.
The second photo is of Amy and Alex and several others who went on a two-day tour of shtetles in the Katowice region. They are standing in the ruin of a beautiful, neo-classical synagogue in a town called Nowy Korczyn that is on the verge of collapsing. Being there was a very moving experience.
This program was a collaborative effort co-sponsored with Congregation Rodeph Sholom, which is located in Manhattan. For more information about Rodeph Sholom, please visit the Congregation's Web site at rodephsholom.org.
Photo of Congregation Rodeph Sholom by Dennis Misler.
Marcin Zmudzki: What was Rodeph Sholom's contribution to the Program?
Dennis Misler: They funded the entire project, including airfare for the two Fellows, as we call them, everyday food in Poland (beer at night and pizza or a large expensive meal the students had to pay), all the planned activities, and the cost of their two Polish companions who attended many of the activities.
Marcin Zmudzki: What was PAJA's contribution to the Program?
Dennis Misler: PAJA planned the entire program and administered it from Krakow, including finding the host/companions, scheduling everything, and overall responsibility etc.
Marcin Zmudzki: Are Amy and Alex members of Rodeph Sholom?
Dennis Misler: Yes. Amy will be sophomore at Cornell this year and Alex is a senior at University of Rochester (New York) and the president of his class. Their grandfather is from Poland.
Marcin Zmudzki: Besides the grill party and the two-day trip, what other activities took place as part of the Program?
Dennis Misler: See the attached activities list [in Word]. In addition to the scheduled events, Amy and Alex visited Rynek, Wawel and spent a lot of time bending elbows with Polish Jewish and non-Jewish students as well as students from around the world, for example at the hostel where they stayed during our visit to Warsaw.