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JCC KRAKOW

2023

A YEAR IN REVIEW

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Welcome

Established and opened by His Majesty King Charles in 2008, JCC Krakow now boasts 1,000 Jewish members including 58 Holocaust survivors, and is the beating heart of Krakow’s growing, vibrant Jewish community. 
Our bright, colorful center with over 60 full time staff and a volunteer team numbering close to 150, welcomes local Jews and non-Jews with innovative, inclusive programming 7 days a week and hosts 100,000+ visitors a year.

In 2023, we continued to rebuild Jewish life in Krakow with weekly Shabbat dinners, celebration of  Jewish holidays and dedicated programming for the entire range of our community from preschool kids to Holocaust Survivors.
Our reborn Jewish community, always mindful of the Jewish idea of “Tikkun Olam” or repairing the world, continued to support Ukraine by directly feeding, housing and providing psychosocial support to approximately 150,000 Ukrainian refugees, 98% of whom were not Jewish.

On October 7, after the brutal Hamas led attack, we opened an “Israeli Safe Space” in our center and welcomed and helped dozens of Israeli families seeking support. Three days after the attack, on October 10, we organized Poland’s first pro-Israel rally and have continued to constantly advocate for the release of the hostages held in Gaza including having hostage posters cover our front fence and a 20 foot wide “Bring Them Home Now” banner proudly displayed at the entrance to our building, seen by thousands of passers by every day.

In 2023, we organized hundreds of meetings and events for all members of our community: seniors, students, and families. We held weekly Shabbat dinners and holiday meals for our community and friends, as well as events open to the public. We are particularly proud to run our FRAJDA preschool - the first Jewish preschool to open in post-Second World War Krakow. Our JCC also continued to support Ukrainian refugees by offering them accommodations, by providing food, medical, and psychological assistance, and by helping refugees find jobs. Following the October 7 terrorist attack against Israel, we also welcomed and helped dozens of displaced Israelis who found themselves stranded in Krakow. 

Meet our community

Our community members come mainly from Poland but also from Israel, Ukraine, the United States, France, Belarus, Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Brazil, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Colombia, and Sweden.

In 2023, our community grew to encompass over 1,000 members, including:

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250 members of the Senior Club

including 58 Holocaust survivors, five of whom are displaced from Ukraine

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120 members from Ukraine

including 100 who joined after the full-scale invasion in 2022

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90 members from Israel

including 35 who joined us after the Hamas attack of October 7, 2023

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Bernard

Holocaust Survivor

Bernard was born in Krakow in 1929. As a teenager, he survived the Krakow Ghetto and five concentration camps. Out of over 50 in his family, only he and his two older brothers survived.
Bernard has become an indispensable leader and member of Krakow's Jewish community. He volunteers in the food pantry and is the oldest Ride For The Living participant. He constantly educates and inspires others.
For Bernard, JCC Krakow is his second home - and his first home as well, with the JCC providing him an apartment.

"I want to thank the JCC and all its supporters for caring for Holocaust survivors like me and for allowing me to be part of the Jewish future in Krakow."

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Siuzanna

Displaced Ukrainian

Siuzanna is a 53-year-old preschool teacher born in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. She and her parents left the country due to its civil war and found a new home in Ukraine. 
When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Siuzanna fled to Poland, causing her to be separated from her husband who had to stay. JCC Krakow welcomed her upon arrival and provided safety and warmth for Siuzanna and her family.
Siuzanna’s favorite thing about the JCC is its warm atmosphere that continues to bring her joy and a sense of belonging.

"I don't know how our fate would have unfolded without JCC Krakow. We are here solely because of the JCC. The humanity I've experienced from all the staff and volunteers at the center is something I've never encountered in my life. The incredible support, kindness, and smiles I receive here make me feel at home."

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Lena

Displaced Israeli

Lena is a 31-year-old Israeli physicist and was in Israel with her husband and two children on October 7th. Lena quickly booked flights to Europe for her family, seeking refuge from the escalating violence.  Her family’s choice to come to Kraków, a familiar place from previous travels, turned out to be a fortuitous decision.

When Lena needed housing and to renew a prescription, she discovered the JCC. The JCC now holds a special place in Lena’s heart for what it has done for her family and she deeply admires the Centre’s eagerness to provide help for anybody in need.

“JCC is a place that we can call home. It’s amazing that we can come here and see familiar faces, speak Hebrew, and celebrate Shabbat.”

Community Programs

We provide our members with a range of services, including social, educational, and welfare support. For most, we are the main provider of Jewish services in Krakow. Through our efforts, Holocaust survivors, along with their children and grandchildren, are forging a renewed and vibrant Jewish community in Krakow.

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FRAJDA

The FRAJDA Early Childhood Center is the first Jewish community nursery and preschool to open in Krakow since the Holocaust. FRAJDA provides children aged 1 to 6 with a comprehensive Jewish education, featuring a curriculum focused on topics related to Jewish history and culture.

FRAJDA in 2023

  • 32 children were enrolled over the year.

  • Following the October 7 terrorist attack,  Frajda immediately welcomed new Israeli children free of charge.

  • To accomodate everyone, we expanded the maximum capacity of the preschool beyond its original limit.

  • We participated in a joint Chanukah project with the JCC in Palo Alto, California.

 

Did you know? "Frajda" means "joy" both in Polish and in Yiddish.

BAGEL

The Bagel Club for young families is designed for parents with children ranging in age from preschool to teens. The club’s meetings allow families to learn about Jewish culture and traditions in a welcoming environment alongside others with similar backgrounds. 

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BAGEL in 2023

 

  • We organized 21 meetings for 35 active families with an average monthly attendance of 75 people.

  • We also celebrated several bat mitzvahs! 

  • We created a special collaborative painting that is on display in our building.

  • Our regular programming continued: culinary workshops, Israeli culture workshops, lectures on Jewish culture, Hebrew classes, and holiday celebrations. 

 

Did you know? First mentions of bagels come from Krakow in 17th century!

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TAPUZIM BBYO

As part of BBYO International, the Tapuzim club offers young Polish Jews a way to connect with their peers from all over the world.

TAPUZIM in 2023

  • We held 26 events for 20 members!

  • Tapuzim members participated in the BBYO Global Ambassadors Week and BBYO International Conference 2023 in Dallas.

  • We took part in the march Shabbaton trip, connecting with Jewish teens from all over Poland.

  • We also took part in the Fifth Summit of European Jewish Leaders in Berlin.

  • BBYO teenagers managed the first rest stop on the route of Ride For The Living!

Did you know? "Tapuzim" is the Hebrew word for oranges!

HILLEL GIMEL

JCC Krakow’s Hillel GIMEL Student Club aims to create a community for Jewish university students living in Krakow. The club welcomes Jews of all denominations, as our primary goal is to create a sense of unity. 

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HILLEL in 2023

  • We had 125 members from Poland, Ukraine and Israel and organized 76 events.

  • 26 members participated in a fall Shabbaton by Hillel Poland: the biggest Krakow delegation EVER!

  • We had a special Purim celebration, with Hillels from Ukraine, Germany, and Minsk who all gathered in Krakow.

  • Ukrainian Hillel members led a special commemoration of the Holodomor genocide.

  • We continued our routine programming, including a flashy retro-themed Chanukah party!

 

Did you know? "Gimel" is the 3rd letter of the Hebrew alphabet, used to indicate the 3rd generation of Jews after the Holocaust.

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REJWACH

Former Hillel members were seeking a fresh social scene as they transitioned beyond the student movement. That's why we created the club for members 30 and above: Rejwach.

REJWACH in 2023

  • We officially launched the new social club in September.

  • Over 20 members participated in the first meetings.

  • Club members bonded on multiple educational recreational trips and casual outings.

  • We're seeing the potential to engage over 50 of our members in 2024!

Did you know? “Rejwach” is a Yiddish and Polish word, sometimes translated as “hullabaloo” or “shindy,” meant to indicate a racket or a loud gathering.

SENIOR CLUB

JCC Krakow's Senior Club is the heart of our organization. It serves not only as a meeting spot for our oldest members, but also offers them a wide range of social activities and welfare support.

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SENIOR CLUB in 2023

  • We supported  250 seniors, including 58 Holocaust survivors.

  • Over 50 members regularly participated in 290 different programs we hosted at the JCC!

  • We facilitated visits, deliveries, phone calls and social support for our home-bound members, as well as providing transportation to the JCC for all seniors in need.

  • Dedicated weekly yoga classes and rehabilitation classes kept our seniors active and moving!

  • Meanwhile, weekly mind training classes and monthly Senior University made sure to activate and strengthen their cognition skills.

  • We fully renovated the Senior Club kitchen, ensuring it is fully accessible to individuals with mobility challenges.

  • Our seniors love the new kitchen so much that we started a completely new series of cooking workshops for them!

Did you know? Seniors are the most active participants of the JCC Krakow Choir, proudly performing at many of our events.

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ACHAYOT

Achayot is a group dedicated to women that focuses on topics that primarily affect them. It promises a safe space for members to suggest ideas, lead discussions, and assist in creating programs that are relevant and timely.

ACHAYOT in 2023

  • Over 30 members participated in multiple educational and cultural meetings.

  • We focused this year on reproductive health, including topics such as HPV, endometriosis, and menopause.

  • We provided our members with comprehensive information on resources available in Poland for treatment and prevention.

  • We also included cultural outings and social bonding events focusing on women, including Tamara Łempicka or Golda Meir.

Did you know? "Achayot" is a hebrew word meaning "sisters."

General Programs

Our mission extends not only to our Jewish members, but to all residents of Krakow. By providing open access to education and fostering opportunities for community engagement, we aim to build a society grounded in mutual understanding and the forging of bonds, regardless of personal differences.

Education

In 2023, we held 98 cultural and educational events open to the general public, including lectures, debates and meetings.

  • Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic and Biblical Hebrew language classes for 174 participants.

  • Intensive summer Hebrew course "Ulpan" for 47 participants.

  • Lectures for 7 different schools in Poland on various topics related to Jewish culture.

  • Culinary workshops on the laws of kashrut for communities outside of Krakow.

  • Lectures for volunteers.

One of the key main projects of 2023 was the “Alef-Bet of Jewish culture” series of workshops for educators, designed to raise their knowledge and awareness on various Jewish topics which could later be incorporated into their work.

Volunteering

JCC Krakow welcomed over 150 volunteers in 2023, most of them non-Jewish.

  •  71 general volunteers helped us with holidays, assisted homebound members, spent time with seniors and Holocaust survivors.

  • 70 volunteers from all over the world helped with Ukrainian Aid.

  • 30 Ride for the Living volunteers took care of the ride’s participants.

  • Ukrainian-speaking volunteers lead holiday services and taught English through program with Jewish Federations of North America.

  • 27 students from Heart of Hearing NGO provided free health screening and hearing aids for Ukrainian refugees.

 JCC Krakow volunteers are living proof of the growing fascination with all things Jewish among young Poles.  Their dedicated work enables JCC Krakow to run smoothly, and in turn provides them with opportunities to learn and engage with the local Jewish community. We believe this to be a significant step toward fostering a welcoming, inclusive society for individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Culture

In 2023, we held 98 cultural and educational events open to the general public, including lectures, debates and meetings.

  • 52 Jewish education events designed specifically for our members. 

  • Over 20 events accompanying the Jewish Culture Festival for 2,600 participants.

  • Educational Jews After Dusk programming for 96 participants during Shavuot.

  • 98 participants at Chanukrakow, our annual open-to-the-public Chanukah event combining games, workshops and education.

  • Shorashim, the new series of open lectures, delving into the Jewish roots of topics ranging from scientific inventions to works of fiction.

While most of our events are open to the general public, we are mindful of the needs of our members, as many of them did not grow up in a Jewish or observant environment. For that reason, we continue a series of members-only events that are meant as a safe space for those who wish to learn more about the intricacies of Judaism.

Humanitarian Work

As the war on Ukrainian soil continues, so have our humanitarian relief efforts. Due to the experience gained after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, we were fully prepared to respond when a new crisis emerged on October 7th in Israel.

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UKRAINE

  • We have directly helped over 350,000 Ukrainian refugees since we began our aid program in February 2022.

  • We provided 1,242 nights in hotels and 40,484 nights in apartments. We continue housing 20 families in apartments located in Krakow.

  • The JCC continues to operate the “Free Shop” seven days a week as a distribution center for food, medicine, hygienic supplies, toys, and clothing. Over 1000 Ukrainian families come in every week to take what they need. In total, the “Free Shop” provided aid to 57,187 people in 2023.

  • ​By the end of 2023 we distributed an estimate of over 700 tons of supplies in our building and through our other facilities.

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ISRAEL

  • Following the October 7 attacks, we instantly established a crisis support center in our building, providing Israelis with housing, cash support for urgent needs, care for children in our preschool free of charge, medical and psychological assistance.

  • A dedicated space was prepared in our building for Israeli families to be safe and together – with our staff and volunteers available twelve hours a day.

  • In total, in 2023 we assisted 50 individuals, including over 20 children. Some of the assisted families were Ukrainian-Israeli, fleeing their home yet again in under two years.

  • We have also brought on a dedicated native Hebrew speaker who is responsible for coordinating our work with the Israeli community in Krakow and Katowice.

Ride For The Living is a comprehensive educational, social, and spiritual fitness experience and fundraising opportunity. It takes place in conjunction with the Jewish Culture Festival, boasting a full schedule of activities, including privately guided tours of Auschwitz and Krakow, participation in Poland’s largest annual Shabbat dinner, an inspiring one-day, 60-mile (97 km) charity bike ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to JCC Krakow, and much more. 

RIDE FOR THE LIVING

From darkness to light
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Holocaust Survivor Day

At JCC Krakow, we believe Holocaust survivors embody the resilience of the Jewish spirit and merit a specific holiday dedicated to celebrating them. In 2021, our CEO Jonathan Ornstein and Rabbi Michael Berenbaum published an open call to create a day dedicated to celebrating Holocaust survivors - Holocaust Survivor Day. Since then, we've been committed to engaging communities with survivors around the world to make this holiday a global movement.

  • In 2023, we celebrated Holocaust Survivor Day on Friday, June 2nd with a special Shabbat dinner for our survivors. During the dinner we also honored long-time JCC friends Marcia and Mark Miller. We cooperated with a group of survivors from Atlanta, GA, to bring our communities together over a joint zoom event. The opening ceremony included words from Jonathan- our CEO, Eric Robbins- CEO of the Atlanta Federation, Terri Bonoff- CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services, and Rabbi Joshua Heller- Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Torah. The event was accompanied by performances of the JCC Choir and Atlanta’s Bob’s Broadway Chorus and included an official proclamation recognizing the holiday from the governor of Georgia.

  • Our efforts to bring Holocaust Survivor Day to other communities continue. This year, we saw an event at Gracie Mansion in NYC with Mayor Eric Adams, a dedicated float for survivors at the Israel Parade, Philadelphia survivors enjoying a lunch in their honor, proclamations from city and state governments across the US, and even in the Israeli Knesset.

Expenditure & Revenue

Many of our members first learn about their Jewish roots as teens or young adults and enjoy the support of a community ready to welcome and teach them about their Jewish heritage. At the same time, we remain one of the only organizations continuing to provide Ukrainian refugees with support.  Below you can see how our total 2023 budget of $4,500,000 USD is broken down.

Overall Budget

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Intergenerational Programming

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Generational Programming

Ukraine Relief

Income by campaign

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Thank you.

JCC Krakow would like to thank the organizational partners, board and council members, private foundations, and donors whose support makes it possible for us to serve our community.

Founders

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Governance

JCC Krakow
Governing Council

Hilda Worth
Chairperson of the Council

Shimon Cohen
Michael Berenbaum
Monika Górecka
Magdalena Jenner
Adam Klimek
Stefan Oscar
Dina Shiloh
Vicki Warner

JCC Krakow
Management Board

Paul Anticoni
Chairperson of the Board

Ronen Assor
Serhii Chupryna
Marta Derkowska
Monika Elliott
Piotr Nawrocki
Ryszard Orowski

Karina Sokołowska Folwarczny
Agnieszka Świderska

 

Friends of JCC Krakow Board

Vicki Warner
President

Suellen Kadis
Secretary

Dagan LaCorte
Treasurer

Marissa Allen
Carol Becker
Michael Berenbaum
Gregg Epstein

Cheryl Fishbein
Shari Gersten
Justin Kadis
Larry Kadis

Beth Kean
Susan Lerner
Mel Mann
Rabbi Michael Paley

Sheri Sandler
Phil Schatten
Elizabeth Szancer
Eric Schwartz

Our supporters

The following individuals, couples, families, and organizations have made significant contributions to JCC Krakow, supporting our work for the Jewish community and Ukrainian refugees.

Anonymous

Anonymous

Anonymous

AJC Central Europe

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

The Jeffrey H. and Shari L. Aronson Family Foundation

Jeff & Janet Beck

David Berg Foundation

The Russell Berrie Foundation

The Boxcar Foundation

The Brause Fund

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Poland

Congregation Beth Or (Maple Glen, PA)

Richard & Nina Edelman

Caryl Englander

Margie & Steve Fiverson

Friends of JCC Krakow

Bruce & Lori Gendelman

Melinda Goldrich & the Goldrich Family Foundation

J. Ira & Nicki Harris Family Foundation

Hillel International

Horodas Family Foundation

The Jenoff Family

JCC Global

Jewish Center of the Hamptons (East Hampton, NY)

Jewish Family & Children's Services of San Francisco, The Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties

Jewish Federations of North America

Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County

Stephen Kaufer

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, Temple Emanu El of Closter, NJ & The New Jersey Jewish Community

Koret Foundation

The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation

Marcia & Mark Miller Family Foundation

Geraldine Mittelman

Edward & Cecile Mosberg, z”l

Park Avenue Synagogue (New York, NY)

Sigmund Rolat, z”l

Marc Rowan

Susan Saltz

Mara Sandler

Wendy & Neil Sandler

Ken Schack

Bob Schloss

Eric & Erica Schwartz Family Foundation

The Shapiro Foundation

Robert Sillins Family Foundation

Soka Gakkai Italian Buddhist Institute

SOS International

Linda & Jerry Spitzer

Michael Staenberg

Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture

Temple Sinai (Oakland, CA)

Terre des Hommes Italia

Gal Tirosh & Safra Catz

Diane & Tom Tuft

UJA-Federation of New York

World Jewish Relief

Get Involved

99% of JCC Krakow's operating budget each year is raised overseas from foundations, Federations, synagogues, families, and individuals.

 

We need your help to continue building a Jewish future in Krakow. Your gift has a direct and lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of Jews who are revitalizing Jewish life in Krakow and Ukrainian refugees who depend on the JCC for support.

We are extremely grateful to all our supporters! To see the full list of our Overseas Members and Ukraine Aid appeal donors, please use the buttons below.

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