The Recovered Mezuzahs of Poland – I

During the past 1,000 years,
Poland has been both the home to Europe’s largest,
most flourishing Jewish population
as well as the prison, and ultimately, the grave-yard
of 3.5 million Jewish People.
For six horrific years, 1939-1945,
Poland was ground zero of the Holocaust:
Hitler’s implementation of his “Final Solution”
for the Jewish people.
Despite the challenges of being persecuted, oppressed,
and ultimately, all but eliminated,
vestiges of Jewish life somehow remained in Poland,
and are now enjoying a resurgence.

The lively Jewish Centers in Warsaw and Krakow, as well as the annual Krakow Jewish Cultural Festival, Jewish schools, archives, magazines, newspapers, libraries, museums, and synagogues, provide warm, inspirational, social and educational venues for the Jewish heart, soul, body. Integral to this dynamic milieu is a unique art studio, conceived, created, and run by a remarkable young Jewish couple, Helena Czernak and Aleks Prugar. Their MI POLIN Art Studio & Gallery in Warsaw is dedicated not only to creating authentic Polish-Jewish Judaica but also to finding and preserving remnants of Jewish life that had been all but lost forever.

One of Helena and Aleks’ most complex projects, “From This Home,” is the result their great determination, endless energy, inspired artistry, meticulous attention to skill, infinite diplomacy–and a whole lot of intrepid detective work! And with the energy and fervor of the young approaching what would seem impossible to others, that is exactly what they did!

Their amazing adventures, and the wonderful—and sometimes not-so-wonderful—people they met, form the basis of a unique, and unforgettable exhibit: “MI POLIN: From This Home.” The exhibit consists of breathtaking bronze castings of mezuzah tracings, along with images and information about the doorposts where they were found. It impossible to see and touch these precious artifacts without immediately being conveyed to the times, places, and people where they originated.