Helena Czernek

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Joanna Król
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
21st March 2014
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN
Jews in Poland

Interlocutor biogram

Helena Czernek was born in 1985 in Warsaw. She spent her childhood in Jędrzejów near Kałuszyn. She attended schools in Mińsk Mazowiecki. Her mother, Urszula Grabowska, is an artist. Helena Czernek has followed in her footsteps and graduated in industrial design from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. She also studied at the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem and at the Department of Hebrew Studies at the University of Warsaw. She is a member of the Polish Jewish Youth Organization (ZOOM). Until 2014, she lived in a Moishe House, which is an organisation serving as a hub for the young adult Jewish community. She is the creator and co-owner of the brand “Mi Polin. From Poland.” As part of her activities she creates contemporary Jewish designs, primarily objects inspired by motifs from Judaism or intended to be used in a Jewish home (mezuzot, menoroth).

Recording circumstances description

The conversation was conducted in the Moishe House in the room of Helena Czernek.

Recording summary

    1. The idea of Moishe House, the founder of Moishe House, functioning of this organisation, everyday life in Moishe House, Moishe Houses in Europe, financing, voluntary work, events of Tikkun Olam, Moishe House's guests from abroad, 0:02:53
    2. Thoughts of the Interviewee on the opinion of Jewish communities from abroad on Poland as the site of the Holocaust, ideas of the Jews from abroad about Poland, 0:16:04
    3. Knowledge about the Jewish ancestry of the Interviewee, childhood memories of the Passover, looking at photographs from the Passover Seder from the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, 0:18:04
    4. Recalling antisemitic jokes at school, reaction of her colleagues to the Jewish ancestry of the Interviewee, 0:20:10
    5. Change of attitude to her ancestry during her university years, membership in the ZOOM organisation, later in Targita, followed by studies at the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem and at the Department of Hebrew Studies at the University of Warsaw, decision to live in a Moishe House, 0:21:02
    6. Impressions from the trip organised as part of the Tagrit journey, visit to Yad Vashem, coming closer to Judaism, 0:22:49
    7. Grandfather of the Interviewee who survived the Holocaust, memories of talking to the grandfather on the subject of war and the survival of his family, 0:25:15
    8. Approach to the Interviewee in Israel during her university studies - treating her as Polish and not Jewish, meeting people who have made aliyah to Israel but came back to Poland to develop their Jewish identity here, 0:26:54
    9. Celebrating Jewish holidays in the family home of the Interviewee, 0:28:25
    10. Celebrating Jewish holidays in Moishe House, 0:31:23
    11. The ancestry of the Interviewee’s parents, the attitude of the Interviewee’s father, whose family is Polish and who comes from the Podlasie region, to the Jewish identity of his wife and daughter, 0:32:53
    12. The Israeli identity of the Interviewee, searching for one’s own place in Israel, and later in Poland, decision to continue her life in Poland, Poland as home, motherland and place to fulfil her Jewish identity, 0:35:06
    13. Secular approach of the Interviewee to Judaism, 0:39:18
    14. Attitude of the Interviewee to Catholicism in the family home, 0:40:27
    15. Attitude towards Orthodox and Reform Judaism, participation in prayers in the Etz Chaim synagogue, considering conversion to the reformed rite, 0:41:18
    16. Artistic endeavours of the Interviewee - preparation of the graphical identification and design of the paper daffodil for the “Daffodil” project run by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, exhibition of the Interviewee’s work connected to Judaism in Kraków, 0:45:16
    17. Art as a method of understanding Judaism, 0:49:10
    18. The first visit of the Interviewee to the former death camp in Poland - Majdanek, recollections of emotions from the visit, her own reactions, 0:50:26
    19. Thoughts on antisemitism in Poland, personal experiences of the Interviewee, her attitude to the images of a Jew with a coin popular in Poland and the Independence March organised by nationalists in Warsaw to celebrate the Independence Day, 0:52:00
    20. Positive attitudes of the Interviewee to her own Jewish identity, Havdalah as the Interviewee’s most beloved ceremony in Judaism, 0:58:40
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