It all began in Lodz, the town of weavers and factory owners` fortunes. In a tenement on Kilinski Street, covered with a layer of factory dust in which years of Jewish life had accumulated like rings in an old tree, there was the I.L. Peretz School. It was closed down after the disgraceful events of March 1968, with zealousness equal to that with which all traces of Polish Jews had been erased. The students, however, have not forgotten what once was the world of their childhood, the color of their parents` and their relatives` memories. Separated by barriers of borders, living in different countries - they stayed in touch with one another. Sharing a common desire - to preserve memory. The past would then speak with the voices not only of sages and writers, but also of ordinary people, passing on from generation to generation the word Shalom, "peace," understood in every language. This is the origin of the American-Polish-Israeli Shalom Foundation. It was established in 1988 at the initiative of Golda Tencer, an actress and director of the E.R. Kaminska State Yiddish Theatre. Memory can be saved only when the past is not passively pondered, but when all that grows out of it is brought into the light. The current seat of the Shalom Foundation is Grzybowski Square in Warsaw. This is not a chance address. In Jewish Warsaw -"Varshe," as the heroes of Isaac Bashevis Singer`s tales would refer to it -Grzybowski Square was a place around which there bustled a toilsome, fast paced Jewish life. And then there was only silence. The stillness of death, and the silence of witnesses. We, who established the Shalom Foundation, have never made peace with the annihilation of that world. We have determined that we will save its image from oblivion. Not only for sentimental reasons, but rather out of conviction that the rescue of memory is at once also a task for the future, the fulfillment of the last will of generations of Polish Jewry who came before us, who dreamed of a Europe and a world free of prejudice, hatred, intolerance and xenophobia. To the founders of this Foundation, members of the Holocaust`s second generation, it seemed extraordinarily important to include the legacy of our ancestors in our task of building the future. For everyone, as Dr. Korczak reminded us in his tales, deserves at least a little bit of happiness.
Structure of the Foundation
General Director - Golda Tencer
Ryvka Slomka Ostaszewski
North American Representative - Lilka Elbaum
Ernestyna Haselnus - Winnicka