Jason Kaufman, a high school student from Westchester, NY, has been volunteering in the ICCI office for the past few weeks, meeting with and interviewing individuals involved in various aspects of ICCI’s work. Here is his next interview, with Zuza Radzik, ICCI’s Polish student intern, who helped develop a special course about the relations between Jews and Poles.
Three years ago, Zuza Radzik, a Catholic student from Warsaw, Poland, was studying at the University of Notre Dame, and had no real intention or desire to come to Israel. Because of her interest in Christian/Jewish relations in Europe, her professor encouraged her to come to Israel. Now, Zuza has lived here for three years and speaks Hebrew!
When ICCI started a Polish/Israeli conference two years ago, Zuza, impressed with the work that she seen, immediately wanted to get involved. She loved that the conference opened up the field of Jewish/Christian relations in Poland and Israel. Zuza helped expand the conferences, and then helped plan, in cooperation with the Polish Institute of Tel Aviv, a year long course about Poland at ICCI: “Encountering Poland: Relations between Jews and Poles – Religious, Historical, and Social Dimensions.” The program is meant mostly for guides of high school groups to be ready to take groups to Poland and understand Jewish life there. Zuza hopes the course will continue after she leaves this fall, as this has been the first year the program has been carried out.
Zuza spoke about a newfound interest in Jewish culture in Poland. Students are beginning to want to study Yiddish, and now few students finish the University of Warsaw without taking some courses on Judaism. Zuza explained how students learn about Judaism and begin to relate it to themselves. Students are suddenly discovering that their small hometowns have Jewish histories. Zuza explained that this trend is bringing an interest in Christian/Jewish relations; however, the Jewish population in Poland is so small today that it is mostly theoretical.
Zuza’s favorite part about working at the ICCI has been meeting the people who work there. Zuza came to Israel knowing no one, and immediately found a circle of people at ICCI similar to the circle of friends she previously had, all with an interest in global issues. When Zuza returns to Poland at the end of the summer, she plans to continue pursuing a PhD in Christian/Jewish relations at the University of Warsaw. She will write her thesis about how the thoughts surrounding the Christians’ accusation of Jews for the death of Christ have changed from antiquity to the present.