In 2018 we’ve started cooperation with two American universities, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. On May 20th , 2019, a small group of students from these universities came to Brzesko together with their mentors, Aaron Shapiro and Talli Aizenman Dippold, so that to join our efforts in preservation of the Jewish cemetery. They stayed in Brzesko for 3 full days, and we’ve managed to do a lot.:
On the first day we met early morning for a tour of Brzesko. We spoke about Brzesko history and visited regional museum with an exhibition on the pre-war Jewish community of the city. By 11 am we were already at the Jewish cemetery on Czarnowiejska street. The group worked until 6 pm fighting weeds, mowing the grass, cutting overgrown bushes and collecting rubbish.
The second day began with a workshop at the Bresko high school. Youth quickly integrated, there was a lot of laughter, but also very emotional moments . Brzesko high school students shared about their commitment to learn the history of the Jewish community of the city, and students from the US talked about the experiences of discrimination, the need for a conscious approach to relations with various minorities.
Once again we started workin at the cemetery at 11 am, and Brzesko students joined the US group. Unfortunately the weather was not the most fortunate. It started raining almost immediately, everyone quickly got wet quickly, but we still managed to do a lot.
It was again raining on the third day of our work, but it turned out that it was possible to mow grass even in the rain. I can only express my admiration for US youth and their mentors – on the last day of work we managed to do really a lot. We all had several layers of clothing, including raincoats, and although the shoes were completely wet, it didn’t bother us. Just look at the pictures. These young people are the best proof that the most important is to be involved in something meaningful. The students were so moved when finding and cleaning another matzeva, sometimes with a very clearly visible inscription – such a tangible trace of someone’s life… Or meeting Holocaust survivor Landau, who brought to Brzesko a group of Jews from South Africa … I practically had to force the young people out of the cemetery , so that we could wash and change before meeting with the city mayor Tomasz Latocha.
It was a very beautiful end to the students’ stay in Brzesko and a nice gesture from the mayor – dinner at the Goetz Palace. And students will definitely come next year.