As many of you know, on April 8th the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Oświęcim, Poland launched a Kickstarter campaign. The goal of their fundraising campaign was to save the town’s last Jewish home from ruin and transform it into a vibrant café, which would not only preserve a heritage site but would also provide the space for engaging locals and visitors in a positive dialogue with the past.
It has been over a month since I wrote my original blog post on this campaign and I am delighted to report that the campaign actually exceeded its original goal of $25,000 and raised a grand total of $28,445! If you haven’t seen it already, here is a heartwarming thank-you from the incredible team at the AJC and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York:
Remarkably, within the first weeks of construction two significant artifacts have already turned up. The first item is a postcard that had been sent to Oświęcim on July 17, 1935 by a lawyer in Paris by the name Georges Lewinsky. The postcard, addressed to a Jewish resident named Mendel Hoenig, outlines the acceptance of a business deal.
A second item found during the construction process were pages from a Yiddish-language Haggadah.
In many ways, these two items speak to the importance of preserving history in Oświęcim. In fact, I think they stand as an incredible testament to the existence of pre-war Jewish life in the town and remind us of the tremendous rupture in history that the Holocaust caused. Above all else, though, I think these items signify the need to continue to foster positive community dialogue about the past, present, and future in Oświęcim (and beyond) — a task that the Auschwitz Jewish Centre will undoubtedly continue with the preservation and transformation of the Kluger family house.
A tremendous thank you to everyone who donated to this exciting project. I look forward to blogging about my future visits to Oświęcim and Café Oshpitzin.