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Jonathan Ornstein

The Rebirth of Jewish Life in Poland

This presentation will discuss contemporary Jewish life in Poland with a focus on Krakow and the work of the Jewish Community Centers (JCC) to reach out to Poles with Jewish roots and build community. It will also touch on the role of the Holocaust in Jewish identity and why Krakow’s Jewish community is an important symbol of hope for the Jewish world.

Jonathan Ornstein has served as the executive director of the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow since its opening in April 2008 by The Prince of Wales. The organization is devoted to rebuilding Jewish life in Krakow and has become one of Poland’s most visible signs of Jewish revival. Prior to the Centre’s opening, Jonathan lectured in Jewish studies at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University for six years and founded the Gesher Association for Polish-Israeli Dialogue. A native of New York City, Jonathan moved to Israel in 1994, living for seven years on a kibbutz in the Negev desert and serving for two years in a combat unit in the I.D.F. before making his way to Poland in 2001. He is a founding member of Przymierze, the Krakow Association of Christians and Jews, and serves as vice president. He is also on the boards of the Krakow branch of the Child Survivors of the Holocaust organization and JCC Global. Jonathan was awarded the Cohon Award for services benefitting the Jewish People (2014) and the Polish Foreign Ministry Bene Merito medal for his work promoting Poland (2015).