The Bente Kahan Foundation started its activities in 2006 with the specific goal of restoring the historic White Stork Synagogue (1829) and creating there a Center for Jewish Culture and Education to honor and preserve the nearly 1000 year-old history of Jews in Wroclaw and Lower Silesia. Since the beginning the Center has been co-financed by the city of Wroclaw and administered by the Bente Kahan Foundation in cooperation with the Wroclaw Jewish community.
History Reclaimed: Jewish Life in Wroclaw and Lower Silesia
is a permanent exhibit that recaptures the nearly 1000 years of Jewish history in this part of Europe – a journey that spans from medieval Breslau, the German Jewish Enlightenment, total destruction by the Nazis, post-war communism and to democratic Poland. This is the unique story of a community and its outstanding individuals that made a lasting contribution to the region and the world.
The Foundation prepared the exhibition in cooperation with the Jewish Studies Department of Wroclaw University and was made possible thanks to an EEA grant, Norway grant, the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as well as funds from the Office of the Marshal of Lower Silesia and the city of Wroclaw.
The White Stork Gallery,
part of the Center for Jewish Culture and Education, is located on the second floor of the synagogue. The curator Yoav Rossano is an Israeli-born artist who has been working for the Foundation since 2008.
Since the Center was established in 2005, over 20,000 school children have attended professional theatre performances especially prepared by the Foundation for elementary, junior high and high schools from all over Lower Silesia. All four productions were written and directed by Bente Kahan.
Summer in the White Stork Synagogue
Concerts are held in the synagogue throughout the summer each Sunday at 5:00 pm, presenting a wide variety of artists and musical ensembles with an emphasis on Jewish music and European folk.
The Sygit Band traditionally opens the concert series. Each year Dr. Maciej Sygit, the president of the Foundation’s Council, invites well-known personalities from different professions from Wroclaw to perform on behalf of the Foundation. Throughout the rest of the year, the Foundation rents out the synagogue for numerous events including the Jewish Festival Simcha, Ethno Jazz Festival, Brave Festival and the annual Actors’ Song Review.
Days of Mutual Respect
On the night of the 9th of November 1938 (Crystal Night), the Nazis brutally attacked Jews living in Germany, destroying synagogues, homes, businesses and other properties. Each year since 2005, the Foundation commemorates these events during the Days of Mutual Respect with performances for schools, lectures, films and exhibitions, culminating in a March of Mutual Respect from the White Stork Synagogue to the former site of the New Synagogue.
The Foundation organizes an ongoing lecture series entitled “Meetings with…” presenting outstanding Polish and foreign scholars of Jewish studies to the general public. In further developing our educational projects, the Foundation has joined forces with the Jewish Studies Department at Wroclaw University. The greater goal is to establish an international center for Jewish studies in our city.
„Yiddish for all”
is a three-year project (2013-2016) aimed at promoting a better understanding of Yiddish culture and language and the multifaceted world of pre-1945 Ashkenazic Jewry to a contemporary audience in Norway and Poland.
This project is supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants and co-financed by the Polish funds.