JCC Krakow celebrated the opening of its Early Childhood Center, Frajda, today. A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially marked the first time in over half a century that a pluralistic Jewish nursery school has opened its doors in Krakow. Frajda was made possible through the generous lead grant of Eric and Erica Schwartz of New York City, who spoke at the ceremony about the revival of Jewish life. “The preschool years are the ideal time for learning about Jewish culture, values, and traditions. We are so pleased to make it possible for Krakow’s Jewish families to send their children to a school that focuses on providing this foundation for the youngest members of the community,” Erica Schwartz said.
JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, President of the Jewish Religious Congregation of Krakow Tadeusz Jakubowicz, and Frajda parent Ewa Kodymowska also offered remarks at the ceremony. “I am thrilled to see Krakow’s Jewish children learning together in a Jewish school,” Rabbi Schudrich said. “Today is a special day in our community’s history. I salute the Schwartzes, Friends of JCC Krakow, and the JCC for bringing this amazing project to fruition.”
Consul General of the United States in Krakow Walter Braunohler attended the ceremony with his mother and two daughters. “I’m incredibly proud of the friendship that we have with the JCC,” he said. “With the opening of Frajda, we are investing in young people for the sake of Polish Jewish heritage.”
Polish Undersecretary of State Wojciech Kolarski, President of the World Jewish Congress Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, and Elizabeth Szancer, donor of Frajda’s Szancer Family Reading Corner, provided remarks to be read in their absence.
The Early Childhood Center’s name, Frajda, means “joy” in both Yiddish and Polish. Created in consultation with leading Jewish early childhood education experts from Poland, the United States, and Israel, Frajda’s state-of-the-art facility can serve up to 22 students. Three dedicated teachers will deliver instruction this year, and the JCC will provide transportation to students from across the city.
The outdoor Taube Family Playground and the Shana Penn Garden to be opened in Spring 2018 will be sponsored by Taube Philanthropies and will augment Frajda’s activities. Frajda’s annual security needs will be underwritten by The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation.
Frajda’s opening would not have been possible without the contributions of Jeff and Janet Beck, Alan and Cindy Golman, Susan Lerner and Michael Roffer, Sam and Gina Rosenberg, Judy Wolf-Nevid, and Michelle Ores, Elizabeth Szancer, Agi Legutko, and the entire Friends of JCC Krakow board.
The JCC is immeasurably grateful to Eric and Erica Schwartz, as well as to these friends and supporters from around the world whose love and dedication enabled the establishment of Frajda. Their enthusiastic support will help future generations of Jewish Poles to connect with Jewish traditions, holidays, history, and values from the day they are born and to celebrate their Polish Jewish identities.
JCC Krakow was opened in April 2008 by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales. It has quickly established itself as the focal point of Jewish life for Krakow’s residents, as well as for thousands of visitors from around Poland and the world every month. Today, the JCC has over 650 active Jewish members, including 70 Holocaust survivors.
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