Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Symphony Space in association with
the Polish Cultural Institute in New York
Monday, September 28, 2009
Understanding Jewish Polonia
by Staś Kmieć
It is important to recognize similarities between cultures, rather than any differences. Understanding the culture of Poland is understanding all its many and diverse aspects
Poland was in many ways the first multi-racial and multi-cultural society; from the Middle Ages onwards, it was a melting pot of different peoples, traditions and religions.
Polish culture is often synonymous with Catholicism; however to understand the unique and complex history, one needs to look deeper into other religions and cultures of Polish brethren. Substantial communities of Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Lithuanian, German, Armenian,Tatar, Boyk, Łemko, Hucuł and Gypsy cultures, along with Poles of Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish faiths were all a part of the tapestry of Poland.
The Jewish name for Poland was Polin or Poyln in Yiddish (etymologically “po” = “here” and “lin” = peace”).
Ashkenazi Jewish communities, which were numerous in the early Middle Ages in France, Italy and Germany were pushed further eastwards during the persecutions of the Crusades. Many fled to Eastern Europe, particularly Poland. They spoke Yiddish, which is a combination of Middle High German, Hebrew and Slavic languages, written in Hebrew script.
Jews, who had been the victims of pogroms all over Europe were often held responsible for the Black Death.
Under the rule of Prince Bolesław Pobozny (1221-1279), Jews were treated well. In 1264, Prince Boleslaw issued the Statute of Kalisz, guaranteeing protection and granting the Jews of Wielkopolska (Great Poland) their rights.
King Kazimierz Wielki, (1310-1370) was favorably disposed toward Jews. OnOctober 9, 1334, he confirmed the privileges granted to Jewish Poles by Prince Bolesław. Although Jews had lived in Poland since before the reign of King Kazimierz, he allowed them to settle in Poland in great numbers and protected them as people of the king. Jews are granted rights to transit through the whole country, settle in its cities and villages, and lend money.
A law in 1346 expanded the scope of the Statute and specifically protected them against persecution in Poland and was a major factor in Poland’s centuries-long position as the home for the largest community of world Jewry.
Of three important messianic movements (including Sabbateism and Frankism ) the only one to achieve widespread and deep significance was Hasidism.
This popular movement of both a religious and mystical nature originated in Central Poland and the Galicia (Małopolska) area in the 17th century. Within the Jewish population the movement is regarded as Polish with its characteristic philosophy, traditional dress, music, dance, and joy of life.
Many Jews took part in the struggle for an independent Poland, joining Piłsudski’s legions – as their forefathers had taken part in Kościuszko’s insurrection of 1794 and the uprisings of 1830 and 1863.
The 10th day of Tishri, the first month of the Jewish calendar, is Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. It is the holiest and most solemn day of the year and marks God’s forgiveness of the early Israelites after they worshipped the golden calf while Moses received the tablets of the law (The Ten Commandments) from God on Mount Sinai.
Moses ascended Mount Sinai to ask God for forgiveness. The Israelites repented by fasting during the day while Moses was on the mountain. On the tenth day, Moses descended the mountain with the second Tablets. God decreed the tenth day of the month of Tishrei as a day of atonement:
According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one's self absolved by God.
Director Roman Polanski, whose turbulent life has on occasion come close to resembling the violent, perverse world of his movies, was arrested in Zurich on a 1978 U.S. warrant for having sex with a 13-year-old. Polanski, reached a plea deal, but was threatened with more prison time than previously agreed upon and fled to France before he was formally sentenced.
Polanski, 76, was due to receive a prize for his life’s work at the Zurich Film Festival, opening a retrospective of his distinguished film career, but he was arrested at the airport upon his arrival in Switzerland on Saturday night.
Polanski’s seminal suspense and horror films in the late ’60s, Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, marked a new era in filmmaking, highlighting deeply psychological and taboo subjects such as incest and Satanism. Polanski would go on to direct classic, award-winning films like 1975’s Chinatown and 2002’s The Pianist.
The legal proceedings around Polanski heated up again in late 2008 with the release of a documentary film, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, which detailed claims of judicial and prosecutorial wrongdoing at the time of the director’s original arrest.
Citing the film and other evidence, Polanski’s lawyers asked in December 2008 that the case against him be dismissed.
Mr. Polanski has been careful to avoid certain countries, but has traveled freely in Europe for decades, in part to direct films.
Meanwhile, Poland and France intend to make a joint appeal to Switzerland and the United States to have Polanski released from his detention, Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski told the Polish news agency PAP. Sikorski said he and French counterpart Bernard Kouchner also plan to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to offer Polanski clemency.
In Paris, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand was ''dumbfounded'' by Polanski's arrest, adding that he ''strongly regrets that a new ordeal is being inflicted on someone who has already experienced so many of them.''
Those comments referred, in part, to the fact that Polanski, a native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, escaped Kraków's Jewish ghetto as a child during World War II and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp.
Polanski worked his way into filmmaking in Poland, gaining an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film in 1964 for his Knife in the Water, which offered his entry to Hollywood.
His life was shattered again in 1969 when his wife, actress Sharon Tate, and four other people were gruesomely murdered in Los Angeles by followers of cult figure Charles Manson. Tate was eight months pregnant at the time.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
POLISH AMERICANS: "Broadway Salutes" Honors Theater Professionals with 25, 35 or 50 Years on Broadway – NYC
Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell hosted the event, which honored a wide-range of theatre professionals – including actors, directors, choreographers, designers, stagehands, casting directors, general managers, theater owners, publicists, ushers, musicians, wardrobe workers, hair and makeup artists, producers, playwrights – who have dedicated their careers to the Broadway theatre industry."
Among the almost 2,000 honored at the industry-wide celebration were several Americans of Polish descent.
"Who would have thought watching Walter Bobbie in the 1972 Broadway production of GREASE that the mooning champ of Rydell High would one day be awarded the Tony for Best Director of a Musical for Chicago?” said event Co-Chair Laura Penn. “These are the people and the stories that we know and don't know - New Yorkers, doing extraordinary work that defines our city. ‘Broadway Salutes' [brought] them all together for a moment for us to say thank you."
– Staś Kmieć
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
She has won both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards twice and won an Emmy Award as best supporting actress in a comedy series for the sitcom Cybill.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Born in Poland’s capitol, Edyta Śliwińska is the only professional dancer to appear on all nine seasons of the series, where she is known as much for her daring costumes as her dance moves. Edyta left her native Poland in 2000 to pursue her dream of becoming a world famous Latin-style dancer. She settled in San Francisco and partnered with Alec Mazo, who later became her husband.
Polish-American model and sometimes actress, Joanna Krupa was born in Warsaw and moved to Chicago with her family at the age of five. She has appeared on magazine covers including ENVY, FHM, Personal, Inside Sport, Stuff, Steppin’ Out, Teeze and Maxim, in which she was named the “Sexiest Swimsuit Model in the World” and has appeared in Playboy. Krupa has also been a lingerie model for Frederick’s of Hollywood. PETA’s “Id Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur” campaign featuring Joanna became a monster phenomenon.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
DANCE: Restaging of Works by Famed Polish Choreographers to appear in “Fall for Dance” Festival" – NYC
Les Biches is a society satire with glamorous poses and demanding quick footwork. Niżyńska is considered to have wielded more influence than she was credited for, and that George Balanchine, among others, borrowed her movement motifs. Niżyńska was concerned as a choreographer with formal composition and the use of gesture and geometric form.
Niżyńska was the first artistic director of The Polish Ballet between 1937 and 1938. She created five new ballets which were premiered by the company at the Paris Exposition Internationale. In these works Niżyńskamerged Polish national dance forms with classical and modernist ballet. The Polish Ballet won the Grand Prix and Niżyńska won the Grand Prix for choreography. The company toured Europe, including London and the World’s Fair in New York City.
Wacław Niżyński was born in Kiev, Ukraine, christened in Warsaw, and considered himself to be a Pole despite difficulties in properly speaking the language as a result of his childhood in Russia's interior where his parents worked. In a letter to the Polish Opera star Reszke, Niżyński wrote "My mother gave me milk and the Polish language, which is why I am a Pole. (...) I can not speak it well because I was not allowed to speak it". Polish was the only language the famed ballet star would ever pray in.
His ballet L'après-midi d'un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun) utilized a score by Claude Debussy. Inspired by the poem by
Born Jane Krajkowski, she dropped the "j" from the family last name when she began working as an actress as people kept trying to pronounce the letter. Krakowski's father's family is entirely Polish and hail from Kraków, and although she knows some words and phrases in Polish, her father and grandparents are fluent.
Krakowski lends her personality and humor to promote Breyers® Smooth & Dreamy™ ice cream at www.smoothanddreamy.com. The webisodes feature a modern take on two of Hollywood's most iconic romance films -- Gone with the Wind and King Kong.
(photo: Evgeny Stetsko)
Russia now says it is giving up on a plan to deploy missiles near Poland. The announcement follows an American decision to cancel deployment of a missile shield in Eastern Europe.
Vladimir Popovkin told Ekho Moskvy radio that Obama's move has made the deployment of Iskander short-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region unnecessary.
Today, President Barack Obama sharply dismisses criticism that Russian opposition influenced his decision to scrap a European missile defense system, calling it merely a bonus if the leaders of Russia end up "a little less paranoid" about the U.S.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski, a conservative supporter of the shield, said his government shared blame for the demise of the U.S. project, but analysts say the economy is a far bigger priority than missile defense for Polish and Czech voters.
Russia had fiercely opposed plans to deploy the shield in a region it had dominated until the fall of communism in 1989.
"Betrayal! The USA has sold us to the Russians and stabbed us in the back," said the Polish tabloid Fakt.
Washington and its NATO allies in Prague and Warsaw always insisted the shield was aimed against Iran, not Russia, noting that 10 interceptors could not deter Moscow's
"Polish diplomacy and administration must bear part of the blame for the present situation. In the process of negotiation with the American side ... what was lacking was a feeling that the Polish government believes in the strategic character of the American presence in Poland," Kaczynski wrote.