Brama Grodzka: Report

Brama Grodzka: A Gate to a Shared Past

On March, 23, 2017, the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies hosted an event about Brama Grodzka, a remarkabe grassroots initiative in Lublin, in southeastern Poland.  Brama Grodzka hosts an exhibition about the history of the local Jewish community, including the history of its fate under German occupation, and initiates public and educational events about the shared past of Jews and Poles in Lublin. The initiative is named after one of the medieval city gates of this important Polish town.

The evening started out with a short introduction by François Guesnet (University College London) about the signifance of Lublin as the location of an important Jewish community. Leading talmudic commentators and Hasidic leaders made it an important center of Jewish learning. Also, the Council of Four Lands, one of the most remarkable institutions of Polish-Jewish self-governance, held yearly meetings for a significant period of time, during the annual fairs.

The history and the wide-ranging activities of Brama Grodzka were presented in a comprehensive slide-show by Magdalena Dziaczkowska, former volunteer of the initative who now pursues an MA in Jewish Studies at the Jewish Studies Seminary (Hochschule für Jüdische Studien) in Heidelberg/Germany). Brama Grodzka has curated an exhibition about Jewish life in Lublin, supports local initiatives in the region to rediscover the Jewish past, and organises events about shared Jewish-Polish life in Lublin. The initiative also holds regular public events commemorating the fate of Jews during the German occupation, and provides information for school children on this topic. It also supports local initiatives in smaller towns of the Lublin region to recover a past which has been sidelined for many years.

The event took was supported by the Polish Cultural Institute, London, and took place at the Jewish cultural centre JW3, and was attended by an audience of around forty people. After the presentation of Ms Dziaczkowska, a lively discussion ensued, mostly about the echo of the activities of Brama Grodzka in Lublin itself.

François Guesnet