Exhibit documents revival of Polish Jewish life
By VANESSA GERA
American photographer Chuck Fishman was just 21 when he began traveling behind the Iron Curtain in 1975 to document a Jewish community on the verge of dying out after centuries of existence in Poland. He couldn’t have foreseen a Jewish revival that came after the fall of communism in 1989.
A new photo exhibition opened last week in Warsaw that brings together Fishman’s early documentation of a melancholy and declining Jewish world with the revival of traditions by the third and fourth generations after the Holocaust, a transformation that left him astounded.
Titled “Re-Generation: Jewish Life in Poland,” the exhibition showing at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw will run until Oct. 28 and then go to the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow for several more months.
Fishman, now 65, told The Associated Press that his motivation for documenting Poland’s Jews in the 1970s and 1980s was to record their history before the centuries-old Jewish community died out completely.
While the numbers of Jews is small, perhaps no more than 20,000 people among 38 million, Poland now has renovated synagogues, Jewish street festivals, a Jewish school, kosher restaurants and even Jewish arrivals from the U.S. and Israel.