THE POLISH ELECTIONS: NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR DEMOCRACY IN A TIME OF GLOBAL CRISIS

The parliamentary elections in October unseated the 8-year reign of the populist party, Law and Justice (PiS). With a majority vote for the Civic Platform (P.O) and a coalition of smaller parties, the new government will take up the gavel in less than two weeks. The voter turnout was unprecedented, not seen since Poland’s first democratic elections in 1989 that heralded the end of communism.

This welcome news has been sobered by the October 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the ensuing war, the surge in global antisemitism, the escalation of the war in Ukraine, and the rise in right-wing governments in the European Union.

Our distinguished speakers Agnieszka Markiewicz (Representative of the American Jewish Committee’s Central European office), Rabbi Michael Schudrich (Chief Rabbi of Poland), Hon. Michał Szczerba (Parliamentarian), and Dr. Daniel Tilles (Editor-in-Chief, Notes From Poland) will share their analyses. The conversation will be moderated by Shana Penn (Executive Director, Taube Philanthropies). 

Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023
PDT: 11:00 a.m.
EDT: 2:00 p.m.
UK: 7:00 p.m.
CET: 8:00 p.m.
Israel: 9:00 p.m.

Agnieszka Markiewicz was the founding director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Central European Office (2017-2019). Since August 2022, she has been the organization’s representative.  Agnieszka is the author of On the Front Line: The Life and Death of a Jewish Diplomat, a book-length interview with the former director of the AJC, David Harris. Agnieszka currently serves as the Chairwoman of the Council of the Warsaw Jewish Community Center and is a board member of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland. She graduated with an M.A. from the Institute of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Warsaw.

Shana Penn (Moderator) is the Executive Director of Taube Philanthropies and a visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union’s Center for Jewish Studies in Berkeley. Shana is the author of the award-winning Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland. She serves on several boards, including the International POLIN Museum Council. Decorated with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic in 2013 for her scholarly contributions to Solidarity history and furthering Polish-Jewish dialogue, Shana received the Medal of Gratitude from the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk in 2021 for being the first scholar to present the role of women in the Solidarity movement.

Michał Szczerba has been a member of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) since 2007, representing the Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska), which regained a parliamentary majority in the recent national elections. In October 2023, he was elected President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Previously, Michał served as the chief of the Polish-Israeli Parliamentary group and recently returned from a visit to Israel, where he met with the son of Polish-born Israeli historian and an advocate for Polish-Jewish dialogue Alex Dancyg, who has been held hostage by Hamas since October 7. Michał holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Warsaw.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, has a long history of involvement in Jewish communities in both Eastern Europe and Asia. Starting as a student in the 1970s, Rabbi Schudrich led Jewish groups and engaged with communities in the former Eastern bloc. After rabbinic ordination, he served as Rabbi of Japan’s Jewish community from 1983 to 1989. Returning to Warsaw in 1992, he became the Rabbi of Warsaw and Łódź in June 2000. In December 2004, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of Poland. Rabbi Schudrich is an official interlocutor between the Jewish community, the Polish government, and the Catholic Church.

Dr. Daniel Tilles is the editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland, the leading English-language service providing news and analysis about Polish current affairs. Formerly an academic with a doctorate in history from Royal Holloway, University of London, Daniel’s research focused on British fascist antisemitism and Jewish responses to it. After a decade working in academia at Kraków’s Jagiellonian University and Pedagogical University, Daniel founded Notes from Poland in 2019 and transitioned to a career in journalism.

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