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Monday, December 5, 2005 - Friday, December 9, 2005

The Russell Senate Office Rotunda
NE of the Capitol; bet'n Constitution Ave., First St., Delaware Ave., Washington, DC Tel: 212.966.6200
Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM Mon-Fri, 9 to 2:30 Fri

Czestochowa, the most sacred Roman Catholic city in Poland, 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 city's population were Jews (almost 40,000). After the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, they first confined the Jews to a ghetto and then deported them to the Treblinka death camp. Some 6,000 remained in HASAG, a forced labor camp on the outskirts of the city. Today, there are fewer than 100 Jews in the city. Beginning with the earliest evidence of Jewish life in Czestochowa, dating from the 1700s, the exhibition traces the history and growth of the local Jewish community and recounts contributions of this once-vibrant population that formed an integral part of this important Polish city and that was virtually obliterated. The exhibit displays photographs, documents, books and other remembrances, as well as two videos with eyewitness recollections by former residents of the city about life before and during the Holocaust, and the post-war denouement.

The award-winning exhibition was conceived by faculty of the Jan Dlugosz Academy, a local college in Czestochowa, and underwritten by Sigmund Rolat and Alan Silberstein, Jewish-Americans with roots in the city. The exhibition first opened in Czestochowa in April 2004 and was then presented at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. It has been viewed by tens of thousands of Polish and foreign visitors, with enormous ripple effects. The citizens of Czestochowa voted the exhibition "the most significant event" of 2004. The exhibition in Washington is sponsored by Sigmund Rolat and the Taube Foundation For Jewish Life & Culture.

Also on view is "Inspired by Jewish Culture", a selection of art projects by students of the Malczewski School of Fine Arts in Czestochowa, an innovative program for which the exhibition was the catalyst, and which has subsequently been incorporated by the Polish Ministry of Culture into the nationwide curriculum of fine-arts schools.

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The Jews of Czestochowa - historic background and exhibition
The Jews of Czestochowa - the exhibition and its far-reaching impact

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