Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Komorowski at the New York Consulate

President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski and his wife Anna attended an event at The Consulate General in New York on September 26 honoring Polish natives living in the United States and Polish Americans for contributions in the continuance of culture, the promotion of Poland, and the cultivation of Polish businesses. Full coverage in the update.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PERFORMANCE - Śląsk Returns with Two Tours

by Staś Kmieć
   The Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble of Poland will tour the United States in two separate tours by two different producers.  The first tour under the auspices of Polski Express in October and November; the second will take place in March 2013.
   Zespół Pieśni i Tańca "Śląsk" was founded in 1953 by composer Stanisław Hadyna and is named after the southwestern Śląsk region.  The company originally focused on the folk traditions of this particular region, but has since expanded its repertoire to include many Polish regions.  Based in Koszęcin, the ensemble has performed for over 20 million people worldwide.
   The Śląsk ensemble performs the masterful music of Hadyna extracted from folk melodies, and has worked with such notable Polish composers as Wojciech Kilar.  Their program features much of the brilliant stage work of its founding choreographer Elwira Kamińska.
   In Youngstown, OH, the Śląsk vocal ensemble will celebrate the dedication of the Shrine to Our Lady of Częstochowa at St. Columba Cathedral on October 30, by singing the mass prelude and later being the entertainment at the fundraising dinner following.

  The following dates have been confirmed:
·         October: 26 – Chicago, IL; 27 – Detroit, MI; 28 –Chicago; 29 - Cleveland, OH; 30 – Youngstown, OH
·         November: 2 - Lodi, NJ; 3 -New Britain, CT; 4 – Stamford, CT
   Possible dates to be scheduled in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  For additional dates and venue information check:, (860) 826-5477;or

The March tour that already includes the Bronx, Schenectady, NY, and Princeton, NJ will be announced as the itinerary is completed.

FILM: Restored Print - Ashes and Diamonds

   The Museum of the Moving Image and the Polish Cultural Institute New York present a a new, digitally restored print  of Andrzej Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds (Popiół i diament) at the Museum of the Moving Image, New York on October 13 and 14 – 2:00 pm.
   As part of its See it Big! series, Wajda’s classic film will be presented in a new, state-of-the-art digital restoration, revealing the original richness of the work of cinematographer Jerzy Wójcik and a vivid impression of Wajda’s strong visual sense. The screening on October 14 will be introduced by the film historian and critic David Thomson, and will be followed by a discussion with Thomson and Sony Pictures Classics co-president and co-founder,Michael Barker.  

   Beautifully photographed and brilliantly performed, Wajda’s heroic 1958 drama is hailed by many as one of the most important Polish films of all time linking the fate of a nation with that of one man. Based on the novel of the same title by Jerzy Andrzejewski, Ashes and Diamonds tells the story of a disillusioned Home Army soldier, Maciek Chełmicki, a tragic hero, fated by the forces of history to commit a crime.
   Andrejewski’s book sprang from the emotional and political atmosphere of the first years after the war.  Published in the forties, it was one of the literary landmarks of its period.  The ten year interval between novel and film is significant, as the message acquired a fresh currency after 1956.

   Compellingly played by screen legend, Zbigniew Cybulski, Chełmicki – a representative of Poland’s “lost” war generation – became a James Dean-like cult figure for an entire generation of Polish audiences. 
  Wajda’s third film is not only one of his most important works, but also the supreme achievement of post-war Polish cinema.  On one level Ashes and Diamonds is a straightforward, suspense thriller and on another it has a dimension of high tragedy as in ancient drama.  Deep down it has a broader meaning, sometimes missed by non-Polish audiences. 
  The film’s truth and strength lies in the way it caught certain momentous historical phenomena which appeared for the first time in 1944, were still in evidence in 1958, and to some extent still linger to this day.  It has all the ingredients of a national epic – showing individual destinies being reshaped during turmoil.
   Many strands from the Polish artistic tradition found their way into the film.  There are clear links to nineteenth-century Romanticism; to Norwid, an expatriate poet, from one of whose verses its title is taken; to Juliusz Słowacki and his drama; and most deliberately to the turn-of-the-century Kraków writer and painter Stanisław Wyspiański.  His Wesele (The Wedding), still one of the most vibrant plays in the Polish theatrical canon, is a great parable of the nation’s situation in his day.  It contains an uncanny riveting scene, repeated almost literally in Ashes and Diamonds.  At the end of a country wedding, the guests shuffle through a grotesque dance which anticipates a fateful change in their lives and their country. The Old Establishment now making their final exit with a sense élan to the strains of Michał Kleofas Oginski’s polonez – Pożegnanie Ojczyzny (Farewell to Homeland).  Wesele is Wajda’s favorite play and fourteen years after Ashes and Diamonds, he captured it on film.
  On the most base level, in Ashes and Diamonds Wajda shows that on this particular night a man caught up in his past under occupation, tired of heroism and beginning to feel the possibility of another and better life finds himself in a position from which there is no escape.   The director fully put into practice his principle that “the methods must be emotional in order to influence, and the heroes emotional in order to move.”

Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria, NY;

WASHINGTON, DC: Book signing event - Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski

   A book signing event with Peter Hetherington the author of Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski, Resurrected Poland, and the Struggle for Eastern Europe will take place on Wednesday, September 26, 7:00 pm at The Embassy of the Republic of Poland – 2640 16th Street NW; Washington, DC.  Admission is free; RSVP:

DVD RELEASE: Andrzej Wajda’s Korczak

   Kino Lorber and the Polish Cultural Institute New York present the American DVD and Blu-ray release of the 1990 black and white film Korczak about Henryk Goldszmit  (1878-1942) – a Polish icon in the 1930s through his writings, teachings, and radio programs for children and a champion of children’s rights, under the pseudonym of Janusz Korczak. When a a group of 200 of his orphaned wards and staff from his Warsaw orphanage were to be deported to the gas chambers of Treblinka, he refused to abandon them, and with them he died in the Holocaust.
   Directed by Academy Award winning director Andrzej Wajda with a screenplay by Agnieszka Holland, the film features a riveting performance by Wojciech Pszoniak.  Many have identified Korczak as an inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, and its influence is unmistakable, and Spielberg wrote that it is "one of the most important European pictures about the Holocaust."  Available at:  

NEW YORK: Wiesław Myśliwski – literary discussio

   As part of the 2012 Polish session of the European Book Club, The New York Public Library (Mid-Manhattan division) will discuss one of the great rural epics of twentieth-century world literature - Wiesław Myśliwski's Stone Upon Stone, in an award-winning translation by Bill Johnston. The events of the Twentieth Century can read about in history books, but the struggle between the lyric and the prosaic in the narrative offers a sense of history from the inside.
   The event will be presented by The Mid-Manhattan Library and the Polish Cultural Institute New York on Thursday, September 27 at 8:00 pm - Corner Room Gallery, 455 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.  Admission is free with registration at

LOS ANGELES: Film Festival

   The 13th Annual Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles celebrating the greatest achievements of Polish filmmakers will be presented by The Polish American Film Society on October 9-18.
   The Festival will open with our star-studded gala during which both Polish and American moviemakers will walk the red carpet at Hollywood's legendary Egyptian Theatre.  Subsequent screenings will take place at the Laemmle's NoHo7 and at the Village Theater in Orange Country.
   At the Gala Opening, Waldemar Krzystek’s  80 Million (80 milionów) – Poland’s submission to the 2013 Oscars in Foreign Language Category will be screened.  For more information and the full schedule check:

HONORS: Storozynski receives Award

Kosciuszko Foundation President Alex Storozynski was awarded the 2012 Fidelis Poloniae in Tarnów, Poland.  The award was given by the Global Forum Polish Media in recognition of "Outstanding Merit in Strengthening Ties between Poland and the Polish Community Abroad." Storozynski's work as a journalist and activist were cited by Deputy Speaker of the Polish Senate, Senator Maria Pańczyk-Pozdziej.   

HUDSON VALLEY, NY: Polonaise Ball

In observance of Polish Heritage Month, the Hudson Valley Polonaise Society will be holding their annual Polonaise Ball on October 13th from 6 to 10 pm.  Dancers will perform the Polonaise, a centuries old dance of noblemen. This stately dance, which will be performed in traditional costumes, usually preceded formal public ceremonies.
   Music will be provided by the Ray Skorka and the Ablemen Orchestra and a prime rib dinner will be served. The dance will take place at the Elk’s Club at 48 Prospect Street in Middletown, NY. For more information and to reserve your tickets contact Barbara at (845) 856-7526, or Hilda at (845) 294-9254. Reservations must be made by October 8th. Tickets will be mailed upon request. 

HONORS: Larry Walk in Hall of Fame

    Radio broadcaster Larry Walk, a Sunday staple for Mahoning Valley, Ohio  polka fans for almost a half century was recognized for his work by his peers in the broader radio community when he was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  “I’m humbled to be a polka guy and getting recognition from a main stream organization honoring broadcasters of all formats,” said Walk. “I feel like it lifts up and gives a nod to all the polka professionals everywhere.”  
   Walk hosts the radio show from his Austintown home on AM stations WSOM and WKTX with his wife Diana.  He has also earned the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the United States Polka Association.

FILM: Wasikowska in Lawless

FILM: A Deportation Love Story

   The award-winning film - Tony & Janina's American Wedding is making the rounds with screenings throughout the country.  The documentary film follows a Polish American family through the red tape of the current U.S. immigration system, telling the untold human rights story of post-9/11, that every undocumented immigrant in America faces today. 
   After 18 years in America, Tony and Janina Wasilewski’s family was torn apart when Janina was deported back to Poland, taking their 6 year old son Brian with her. Set against the backdrop of the Chicago political scene, and featuring Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez at the heart of the immigration reform movement, this film follows the family’s 3-year struggle to be reunited, as their Senator Barack Obama rises to the Presidency. 

TRIBUTE: Jan Sawka (1946-2012)

   Artist, printmaker, designer and architect Jan Sawka suffered a fatal heart attack in his studio and home in High Falls, New York recently. One of the premier artists of the famed Polish Poster School and a leading artist of the Polish and American counter-cultures, Sawka designed art sets for playwright Samuel Beckett, The Grateful Dead band and Steve Winwood among others as part of his theater projects. At the time of his death, he had just completed a multimedia spectacle titled “The Voyage” that will tour with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s ensemble in 2013. 
   His paintings, posters and prints are in over 60 museums around the world and he has had over 70 solo shows at international museums and galleries.
   Sawka’s oppositionist activities lead to his forced exile from Poland in 1976. In 1981, when martial law was imposed in Poland, the AFL-CIO led a bipartisan fundraiser that sold Sawka’s Solidarity poster in the millions to provide immediate support to the besieged Solidarity Movement. The image of a button with the Solidarity-logo as a sun above a landscape of crowd-like trees became an icon of the rebellion.
   He was born in the Zabrze in the Śląsk region to an architect father and linguist mother. His childhood was overshadowed by his father’s Stalin-era political imprisonment. Sawka completed two Masters Degrees: in painting and print-making and in architectural engineering and became a star of the Polish Poster School.
   He moved to New York City in 1977 and quickly became part of the American art scene. He produced numerous editorial page commentary drawings for The New York Times; exhibited his paintings in galleries in New York, Los Angeles and abroad; and designed for theaters.  Sawka’s prints and posters comprise the largest collection of works on paper in the collection of the Library of Congress.
   A memorial exhibition at ACA Galleries in New York City is being planned. 

POLONIA: A Little Bit of Poland in Brooklyn

   Summer time is at a close and if you didn’t have the chance to get to Poland or the means to afford such a trip, one still has the opportunity to experience the vitality of a Polish existence. One of my favorite retreats to immerse myself in the language, culture and tastes of Poland is the New York City enclave of Greenpoint-Brooklyn.
   Once a post-industrial and residential neighborhood with its main claim to fame being a thriving Polish community, Greenpoint now epitomizes the Brooklyn renaissance. There are more Polish opportunities than ever before. Among the mixed blocks of Poles, Italians and Hispanic families and the much-loved Monsignor McGolrick Park, there is the distinct mark of Polonia.
   Check out the Janusz Skowron’s Polish Art Gallery in Starbucks, the bookstores, bakeries, Steve’s deli (where they offer you kielbasa samples off a knife’s point), restaurants such Karczma, Królewskie Jadło, and Golden Café, Peter Pan Bakery for pączki doughnuts… and yes, there are liquors store with everything imaginable - for your Krupnik or Żubrówka fix. Come to Greenpoint - you will feel even more Polish, and won’t leave empty handed!

LITERATURE: Gombrowicz Diary

   Long out of print in English, author and playwright Witold Gombrowicz's diary - Dzienniki has been revived in new English edition with translation by Lillian Vallee. 
   Grombrowicz (1904–1969) had lived in exile in Argentina since 1939, when he embarked on a diplomatic voyage to the country with other writers just as Germany invaded Poland and World War II broke out across Europe. He remained in Argentina for two decades, later discouraged from returning to Soviet-occupied Poland and the hostile communist regime. His works, which had not drawn much attention before the war, were entirely banned in Poland due to the writer's stance towards the regime. He gained fame only during the last years of his life, but is now considered one of the foremost figures of Polish literature.
   The new edition of the diary brings together three volumes that were previously published separately between 1988-1993, along with some previously unpublished writings originating in 1966-1969 – now arranged in their original chronological order.
   Witold Gombrowicz is the author of Ferdydurke, Trans-Atlantyk, Cosmos, and Pornografia, along with plays.  His diary, have been translated into more than thirty languages.  For more information on Gombrowicz, see the official website dedicated to his life and works:

POLONIA: Lufthansa Prize – Two Tickets to Poland

   Tymothy Stoll was named the grand prize winner of Lufthansa Airlines’ “Celebrate Polonia” photo competition, which occurred in conjunction with the company’s new service to Poland. The focus of the contest was to "showcase how you cherish and celebrate your Polish heritage."  Stoll, a Cleveland area Polish heritage fanatic sent a photo of Zespół Góralski Siumni of the Polish Highlanders in South Chicago.
  The prize is a pair of round-trip tickets to Poland.  “I would like to travel during a holiday time, like Christmas or Easter, but I haven’t booked my trip yet,” said Stoll. “Now I am trying to put together the money to cover costs of hotels and ground travel.”

HUDSON VALLEY, NY: Polonaise Society News

Polish Language Classes 
   Adult Polish Language Classes for the Fall season will begin on September 17. The course will run for 10 weeks each Monday from7:30 until 9:30 pm at the CYO Building, 662 County Rte. 1, Pine Island, NY until November 19. We have classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced. Registration will take place at 7:15 pm. Contact Barbara prior to the first class at 845-258-4425 or e-mail at
Free Polka Classes
   Beginning September 12 free weekly polka dance instruction classes will take place at the PLAV Post #16, Legion Road in Pine Island. The various figure dances will be featured, along with the waltz, oberek, and the polka!   For children ages 6 to 15 the class will run for 6 weeks from 6:30 to 7:30 pm (ending October 17); adult classes run for 10 weeks (ending November14) from 7:45 to 8:45 pm. For information, call 845-294-9254 or 845-258-4721 or email: 

ART: Gubernat Retrospective Exhibit

   The Skulski Art Gallery of the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark, New Jersey will present a retrospective show of acrylics, watercolors, pastels, photography and others by New Jersey artist and educator Frank Gubernat until September 30.
   Frank Gubernat received M.A. degree in Mixed Media Printmaking from Montclair State University, B.F.A. degree in Advertising Design from Rochester Institute of Technology and Supervisor of Art Certificate from Seton Hall University.  He worked in advertising as a free-lancer and in an ad agency; in a graphic studio with an emphasis on packaging point of sales displays. 
   The Skulski Gallery is located at 177 Broadway in Clark, New Jersey, just of exit 135 from the Garden State Parkway.  For more information contact:

POLONIA: Agata Khoury – Polish Leadership program

   Polish Youngstown Inc. announced that Agata Lyda Khoury, a resident of Poland, Ohio resident, recently completed the School for Leaders for the Polish Community from North America program (Szkoła Liderów Polonijnych Ameryki Północnej) in Warsaw, Poland.  She was selected from hundreds of applicants in the United States, Mexico and Canada, Khoury and secured one of the 30 spots in the program.
   Created by the national Polish Senate, this all-expense paid program supports the development of leadership skills among participants to make their work for the Polish community abroad more effective.  The School focuses on the strengthening of participants’ ties with Poland by getting them acquainted with contemporary Poland.
   Polish Youngstown Founder and Art Director, as well as Co-Director of the Krakowiaki Polish Folk Circle, Agi was born in Poland and moved to Ohio when she was two years old. She has been back to visit family only six times.
   "We were very excited that Agi was selected because the selection was based on the work we have been doing here as an organization during the last three years," said Aundrea Cika, director of the nonprofit organization. "We know that she will represent us well and bring back a wealth of ideas and connections that we can make use of moving forward."
   Other North American participants included: Joanna Beugnon, Marta Borowiak, Mariola Czarniak, Natalia Dmuchowska, Mateusz Domogala, Jadwiga Firstenhaupt, Ilona Frederick, Lucas Grabiec, Maciej Konrad Hryniewicki, Ela Jamiolkowski, Kasia Kaminska, Arkadiusz Kazimierski, Natalia Kusendova, Marcin Lewandowski, Joanna Marks , Artur Orkisz, Agnieszka Pokropek, Kasia Polanska, Brigitte Rajacic, Dominik Roszak, Gregory Rozdeba, Tomasz Rozdeba, Marcin Skarżyński, Marcelina Sladewska, Matthew Stefanski, Pawel Sulzycki, Joanna Tomaszewski, Barbara Waginska , and Monika Wilk.

1944 Warsaw Uprising Clip at Madonna Concert

     Madonna's world tour has been surrounded by controversy and the latest involved Catholic and veterans' groups in Poland protesting against a concert by Madonna because it falls on the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.  The group argued that it was inappropriate for Madonna to perform during the Polish capital’s annual remembrance of the doomed 63-day uprising against Nazi occupiers, in which an estimated 200,000 civilians died.
   Responding to critics, Madonna showed a World War II-era newsreel about the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis during her concert in the city on the anniversary of that 1944 revolt before the performance.  Agence France-Presse reported that thousands of fans applauded as the two-and-a-half minute film played.
   Every year, Poles commemorate the lives lost during the uprising. One Catholic group – Krucjata Młodych (Youth Crusade), had started an online campaign urging people not to attend the concert. The group also held anti-Madonna Mass services and street prayer sessions.  Billboards around the capital promoting the concert had been defaced with the sign of the Polish Home Army, the largest underground army in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Święta Żydów Polskich – Polish Jewish Holidays

How People Lived in Old Poland
by Staś Kmieć
September issue of The Polish American Journal
   Poland, throughout most of the country’s thousand-year history has remained a vague concept geographically and ethnographically.  The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world.  It was the center of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy.
   From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe.   As a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world's largest Jewish community of the time, it was known as paradisus Iudaeorum (Latin for "Paradise for the Jews").   According to some sources, about three-quarters of all Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century.
   The first Jews arrived in the territory in the 10th century by travelling along the trade routes leading eastwards to Kiev.  Jewish merchants (Radhanites) crossed the areas of the Śląsk region (Silesia). Jewish exiles arrived in the eleventh-century from Spain and Prague.  For centuries they converged on Poland from all over Europe, fleeing political or economic persecution in their home countries.  Many came, not as a result of external threats, but were drawn by the opportunities in the most tolerant country of the continent. 
   As transliterated into Hebrew, names for Poland were interpreted as "good omens: “Polin” (etymologically “po” meaning “here” and “in” meaning “peace” or “rest”); “Polania” (“po” = “here,” “lan” = "dwells,” “ya” = "God”).
   This feeling of security was derived from the strict laws of the country and the protection policies of the Polish rulers.  Polish masters needed Jewish traders and craftsmen and their knowledge of commerce.  With these privileges, they were able to develop their arts of engraving stamps and coins, and trade

Acts of Hebrews (Dzieje Hebrajczyków)
   The Acts of Hebrews were divided into epochs associated with history. Initially, the year commemorated important historical events of the nation of Israel (from leaving Egypt to Babylonian captivity).  Later it was established that the beginnings of history would start with the most important date – the creation of the world. According to the Hebrew priests this occurred in 3761, before our era. Thus the year 2012-2013 on the Jewish calendar year is 5773.
   The week ended with a day of rest the Sabbath (Sabat, Szabas, or Szabat), which begins at Friday's sunset, and lasts into Saturday evening. Biblical law forbade all work, travel, and kindling of fire. It also required the kosher standard (ritual purity) of all products, dishes, tableware and cutleryShabbat meals were prepared the day before.
   The observance began with prayer in the synagogue – house of prayer.  On Friday – just before dusk, men in prayer shawls (tallis) returned hometheir families assembled before the Sabbath table.  Two Sabbath candles were lit in the home by the head mother figure "to light up the house" (“by dom rozświetlić”). The welcoming song, “Shalom Aleichemwas sung.  Over a chalice of wine, the prayer blessing - Kiddush was recited by the oldest man in the household; a gala supper followed.
   With the Havdalah (“separation” from Hebrew) ceremony, the Sabbath ended. Fragrant roots were burned in richly decorated silver containers. 
   Note: Polish synagogues were built of wood, in a style that was more harmony with the surrounding architecture than in Hebrew tradition.
Rosh Hashanah (Rosz Haszana)
   Most important in the holiday calendar was the cycle of high holidays Rosh Hashanah, the New Year.  Yom Kippur, and the seven-day feast of Sukkot, were once celebrated after the harvest of crops.
   Rosh Hashanah (literally: “the head of the year”) is a holiday that has a deep sense of Jewish affairs beyond and outside Judaism – whose meaning is universal, as it concerns all of humanity. 
   Holidays, such as Pesach (Passover, Exodus), or Shavuot (receiving the Torah) refer to the most important events in Jewish history, and only Jews. Rosh Hashanah does not relate directly and specifically with the Jews. It is a festival celebrating the completion of divine creation, and specifically the sixth day on which man was created – a man who was not Jewish, but the “father” of all people.
   It is not a commemoration of the creation of the world in a physical sense - galaxies, stars, planets, oceans, animals, but the emergence of a human being. Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the month of Tishri (Tiszrej), begins the next year in the history of the world – the New Year. 
   Blowing of the shofar (ram's horn, much less from an antelope or gazelle) is the commandment of the Torah; the customary fulfillment of obligation.     
   Typical, traditional cuisine for the first evening meal on Rosh Hashanah is dishes which symbolize the hope for a successful, prosperous new year:
      ·  apples in honey – "Thy will be done to give us a good, successful year"
      ·  the head of a fish – "Thy will be done, we went to the head, and not the back"
      ·  pomegranate – "Thy will be done to ensure that our merits be as numerous as the pomegranate seeds"
   In addition:
       ·  challah bread plaited in a round shape (chałki) symbolized a balanced, harmonious life in the new year
       ·  challah formed in the shape of birds – symbolized prayer which flies like the birds in the sky to God
       ·  challah traditionally dipped in honey
       ·  honey cake (lekach)
   In Poland, the ritual of tashlikh is performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one's sins are symbolically cast into the water.  The custom to throw bread or pebbles into the water, to symbolize the "casting off" of sins is also practiced. The service is recited individually and includes the prayer "Who is like unto you, O God... and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea", and Biblical passages including Isaiah 11:9 – "They will not injure nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” as well as personal prayers. Though once considered a solemn individual tradition, it has become an increasingly social ceremony practiced in groups.
   “Shana Tova” is the traditional greeting on Rosh Hashanah, which in Hebrew means "A Good Year."

Yom Kippur (Jom Kipur or Sadny Dzień)
   The Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews.  Crowds collected in synagogues to pray for the dead, and in the confessional prayer called Aszamnu, would loudly profess their faults.  Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
   Kapparot (expiations) is a ritual custom that was practiced by some Jews on the eve of Yom Kippur. In this practice, a live chicken (rooster for men, hen for women), literally becomes a religious and sacred vessel in place of man.  The chicken was swung over one's head three times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the chicken. The chicken was then slaughtered and donated to the poor for consumption, while the guts were thrown to the birds.  It alludes to the ancient rituals of sacrifice, and was based on the reconciliation of Isaiah 1:18 in the Hebrew Bible.
   This ritual appealed to Kabbalists, who recommended the selection of a white rooster as a reference to Isaiah 1:18 and who found other mystic allusions in the prescribed formulas. Consequently, the practice became generally accepted among the Jews of Eastern Europe.
   In the Middle Ages some rabbis criticized and strongly opposed this practice as a pagan custom. They considered it a non-Jewish ritual that conflicted with the spirit of Judaism, which knows of no vicarious sacrifice outside of the Temple in Jerusalem.  The chicken was replaced with a bundle of coins, which was then given as an offertory donation to charity or it was simply passed over the head of an individual.
   Erica Silverman wrote a children's book, “When the Chickens Went on Strike,” which is adapted from the short story – "Kapores" by Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem. The story takes place in a 19th century Russian village, where the residents are preparing to celebrate the Jewish holidays.

Sukkot (Kuczkami)
   Four plants were connected to the joyful holiday of Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Booths: a palm branch (lulaw), lemons (etrog), three branches of myrtle and willow twigs, which once had a symbolic meaning in prayers concerning rain for the harvest.  It is a Biblical holiday which lasts seven days (eight in the diaspora) and is celebrated on the 15th day of the month.
   Huts (sukki) were built as reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites lived during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  Throughout this time the holiday meals are eaten inside these huts, and many sleep there as well.  Each day, a blessing is recited over the lulav and etrog.  The Feast of Tabernacles ends with the holy joy of the Torah.
   In Leviticus, God told Moses to command the people: "On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook" (Lev. 23:40), and "You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Lev. 23:42-43).

Simchat Torah
   Marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle, Simchat Torah (also Simkhes Toreh; "rejoicing with/of the Torah,” in Hebrew) is one of the happiest days in the Jewish calendar.  Over time became an independent ceremony.  It shows the dream reading the Torah (the Pentateuch of Moses) and respect of the rights of the Bible.  After a festival parade of the Torah scrolls amidst singing and dancing, the last section of Deuteronomy and the first section of Genesis are read in succession.
   In Poland on the 23rd of Tishri, it was the custom to sell the privilege of executing various functions during the services on Shabbat and Jewish festivals to the members of the congregation.  The synagogue used this occasion as a fund-raiser. People who made these donations were called up to the Torah and given a congregational blessing.
   The Jewish calendar date begins at sundown of the night beforehand. Thus all observances begin at sundown on the first secular date listed, and conclude the following day at nightfall.
·        Rosh Hashanah begins in the evening of Sunday, September 16, 2012, and ends in the evening of Tuesday, September 18, 2012.
·        Yom Kippur begins in the evening of Tuesday, September 25, and ends in the evening of Wednesday, September 26.
·       Sukkot begins in the evening of Sunday, September 30, and ends in the evening of Sunday, October 7.
·       Simchat Torah begins in the evening of Monday, October 8, and ends in the evening of Tuesday, October 9.