Remembering the Man Who Remembered Korczak

 

Though Andrzej Wajda, Poland’s most well-known film director is best known for The Promised Land and three other award-winning films, for me his 1990 film, Korczak, has the greatest meaning. Mr. Wajda, who the New York Times called “a towering auteur of Polish cinema,” died earlier this month, so this is a good time to remember him.

 

Korczak, starring Wojcieh Pszoniak in the title role and Ewa Dalkowska as Stefa, documents Janusz Korczak’s efforts, twice, to re-create his orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto after the German invaders forced him out of his building at 92 Krochmalna. Although run-down shells of buildings were a poor comparison to the original home, Korczak did succeed in creating a humane refuge for the orphaned children in his care.  In the hell that was the Ghetto, Korczak continued with his extraordinary pedagogy, children’s self-government (including the Children’s Court), teaching, and mealtimes. Korczak sets out to document the man and his heroic work during his last two years, from 1940 to 1942.  “I think I committed to Korczak all my talents and skills,” he said. Like Schindler’s List, this movie was filmed in black and white, showing the stark contrast of good and evil. (Steven Spielberg considers Korczak “one of the most important pictures about the Holocaust.” Noteworthy is the fact that Wajda did not succumb to the temptation of showing the orphans at the Treblinka death camp, claiming he had no right to do so.

 

Andrzej Wajda was born in 1926, in Suwalki. His father, Jakub, was a victim of the Katyn massacre in 1940, the subject of his 2007 film of the same name.  In 1942, he joined the Home Army (Armia Krajova), the Polish resistance, of which Irena Sendler was also a part. After the War, he studied painting at the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, before enrolling in the Lodz Film School. The 1970s was a lucrative time for Wajda, and his 1981 film, Man of Iron, told of a wedding during the Solidarity movement. Andrzej Wajda passed away in October 2016, in Warsaw. He was 90.

The Fact Is, We Need Nature Much More Than Nature Needs Us

Columbia River Gorge Sunset 07

But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

When young Pavel Friedman wrote these words from the ghetto of Terezin, in 1942, he saw butterflies and the majesty of even the smallest bits of nature as a symbol of freedom and goodness. Pavel saw the goodness but never saw the freedom.

Of course, we are not being held imprisoned in a ghetto. However, humanity will be imprisoned

 

“The most important thing isn’t necessarily that we’re losing . . . 1 million species — although that’s important, don’t misunderstand me,” Watson said during a teleconference Sunday. “The bigger issue is the way it will affect human well-being, as we’ve said many times — food, water, energy, human health.

“We care about nature, but we care about human well-being,” Watson said. “We need to link it to human well-being; that’s the crucial thing. Otherwise we’re going to look like a bunch of tree-huggers.”

The report has a positive spin, saying that “it is not too late to make a difference.” But that difference requires more than 100 developing and non-

Nations that signed off on the study’s findings acknowledged that opposition from rich people invested in the status quo is expected.

Guide for Teachers – Islamophobia

The National Council of Canadian Muslims has released a guide for teachers and school counsellors to help them discuss issues around Islamophobia in class.

The guide comes after thousands of refugees from Syria arrived earlier this year — many of them students.

Amira Elghawaby of the National Council of Canadian Muslims says the refugee crisis was one catalyst for the guide’s creation. But she says ongoing conflict in the Middle East, last year’s federal election and the Islamophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump were also factors.

“All of this sort of came together and we realized educators are looking for some support on how they’re going to deal with all these varied issues that are interconnected as they go into this new school year,” she told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Elghawaby says the guide was sparked by situations in classrooms as well, including what she says was a Grade 5 teacher raising the spectre of terrorists coming with refugees and racist social media posts from at least one teacher.

“It’s peer-to-peer on playgrounds. We know sometimes young Muslim children … are being made fun of. Sometimes they’re not comfortable saying they’re Muslim at all,” she said.

The guide is available online.

With files from CBC Radio One’s On The Coast

surrey-refugee-bridge-art-class

Refugee students at an art class at the Surrey Schools ELL Welcome Centre. The National Council of Canadian Muslims has released a guide for educators to fight Islamophobia after thousands of refugees came to Canada this year. (Surrey ELL Welcome Centre)

It pains us deeply when Syrian refugee children are taunted at school because of their faith. During the school year ahead, we at the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect will announce a program to counter bullying in schools across the United States. Our program will go to the places where refugee children face discrimination and address Islamophobia. Rest assured, we will address bullying against any child based on any prejudice. Let us know if you’d like to help. In the meantime, we applaud the National Council of Canadian Muslims for its new guide to help teachers discuss Islamophobia in class.

God Is Neither Straight or a Dude

Pavlovitz God Is not a Dude

 

“God not a dude.” Very well said! Descriptions of God in the Jewish bible (Tanakh) are just that; they are not meant to be taken literally, as God (Hashem) demands “He” not be seen (especially in Exodus). Pavlovitz points out “ruach,” the spirit of God is a feminine word. I’ll add “shekinah,” also spirit, which is described as a feminine quality. All people were and are created equally; we are brothers and sisters.