Polish Museum Director Stresses 1,000-Year Jewish History

Holocaust Plays Only Small Role in New Institution

Brimming With Charm: Dariusz Stola addresses crowd at the Polish Consulate General.
Wojciech Kubik
Brimming With Charm: Dariusz Stola addresses crowd at the Polish Consulate General.

By Anna Goldenberg

Published April 09, 2014, issue of April 18, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Dariusz Stola, the newly appointed director of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, never seems to tire of discussing the groundbreaking institution’s most important mission.

The bespectacled history professor, who is not Jewish, says the museum aims to show off the richness of Polish Jewry’s 1,000-year history, not its devastation in the Holocaust.

“If you, God forbid, were killed in an accident tomorrow,” said Stola as he leaned forward and knocked slightly against the underside of a filigreed wooden coffee table. “would you want people to remember the day of your death, or your life?”

Stola, 50, in a grey jacket, with short, fair hair and rimless glasses, was visiting to introduce himself to American stakeholders. Since its “soft” opening last April, the museum has shown temporary exhibitions; its core exhibition is slated to open on October 28. Stola repeatedly emphasized the mantra: It’s a museum of life. That’s why only one out of eight galleries will be dedicated to the Holocaust, which eradicated 90% of the Polish Jewry.

Stola stuck closely to talking points during an interview with the Forward at the Polish Consulate General in New York, a lavish, century-old building near Grand Central Station, complete with gold stucco, ceiling frescos and original Tiffany windows. But Stola brimmed with gregarious charm later in the evening, at an event at the consulate for around 200 invited guests.

Equipped with a slideshow, he presented snippets of the core exhibition, such as the reconstruction of the wooden synagogue of Gwozdziec, in what is now Ukraine. The shul’s meticulously decorated, colorful ceiling, and numerous multimedia installations will render the museum the most technologically advanced in Eastern Europe, according to Stola.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.