December 3, 2006 – January 29, 2007
Library Gallery, 2nd floor

Exhibit

Częstochowa, the most sacred Roman Catholic city in Poland and home of the Black Madonna, has for centuries been a pilgrimage site for millions of Catholics. Before World War II about a third of the population of the city was Jewish (almost 40,000). After the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, they confined the Jews to a ghetto and later deported them to the concentration camp in Treblinka. Some 6,000 survived in HASAG, a forced labor camp on the outskirts of the Częstochowa. Today, there are fewer than 100 Jews in the city.

Beginning with the earliest evidence of Jewish life in Częstochowa, dating from the 1700s, “The Jews of Częstochowa” traces the history and growth of the local Jewish community and recounts the vitality and contributions of this once-vibrant population that was virtually obliterated. The exhibit displays original photographs, documents, books and other remembrances of pre-war life, the large scale tragedy of the ghetto and HASAG, and finally the postwar denouement. There are also two videos about life before and during the Holocaust years, with eyewitness recollections by former residents of the city.

“The Jews of Częstochowa” was assembled by the faculty of the Jan Dlugosz Academy, a local college in Czestochowa, and underwritten by Sigmund Rolat and Alan Silberstein, Jewish-American businessmen with roots in the city. The citizens of Częstochowa voted the exhibition “the most significant event” of 2004.

This award-winning show first opened in Częstochowa, Poland, in 2004 and then moved to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. It was visited by tens of thousands of Polish and foreign visitors. The North American tour of the exhibit began in 2005 in New York City at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland. It then moved to Washington, DC, where it was on view at the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda. From January through April 2006, Seton Hall University, New Jersery, hosted the exhibit. In July and August of 2006, the exhibition was on view at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Also on view is “Inspired by Jewish Culture”, a selection of art projects by students of the Malczewski School of Fine Arts in Poland, who were motivated by the exhibition. Says one student: “Teenagers came to visit and started to have a vision of how to understand Jewish history: […] In Częstochowa, we not only think about Jasna Gora [Black Madonna Sanctuary], but think also about the Jews who helped build this city.” Significantly, the Polish Ministry of Culture has incorporated the Malczewski School program into the nationwide curriculum of fine arts schools. This exhibition is sponsored by Sigmund Rolat and the Taube Foundation For Jewish Life & Culture.

Hours & Tours
Visitors are welcome to visit the Library Gallery on their own during regular Gallery hours. Groups may also request a tour led by a docent who will explain the exhibit in greater detail and tailor the visit to the group’s interest and age group. Schools and other organizations interested in requesting a tour should complete the online tour request form.

Related Links
Jews of Częstochowa Exhibition Brochure (pdf)
The World Society of Częstochowa Jews and their Descendants