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April 9, 2007

CCNY JEWISH STUDIES MAJORS ACCOMPANY HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR FOR RETURN TO POLAND, REUNION WITH PROTECTORS’ DAUGHTER

NEW YORK, April 9, 2007 – A group of Jewish Studies majors at The City College of New York (CCNY) will witness history come alive this month when they accompany a Holocaust survivor who is returning to Poland for the first time since World War II.  The woman, Paula Moskowitz, will have a reunion there with a surviving member of one of the families that hid her from the Nazis.

The five students, Madeline Cepeda, Kerry Farias, Gillian Grude, Kira McCune and Cynthia Rodriguez, are enrolled in an advanced seminar on the Holocaust called “The Hidden Children.”  They will travel to Poland April 19 – 24 with Ms. Moskowitz, a native of Poland’s Lublin region, who works for CUNY-TV as a business associate. 

“This is Holocaust history come alive,” said Dr. Roy Mittelman, Director of CCNY’s Jewish Studies program.  “Few students get to experience the places where the Holocaust occurred through the eyes of a survivor.”

During World War II, the Nazis murdered almost all of Poland’s three million-plus Jews.  Paula Moskowitz was one of the fortunate few young children kept from that fate.  Over the war’s course, successive families of “righteous Gentiles” risked their own lives by housing her and concealing her identity.  She left Poland in 1946 and has not been back since.

In addition to revisiting the place of her birth, Ms. Moskowitz will meet with the daughter of one of the families that protected her from the Nazis.  The woman, whose name is Genia, made a point of playing with Paula each day after school.

The group, which is led by Dr. Mittelman will also visit Ms. Moskowitz’ birthplace, Piaksi.  The class contacted Kamila Klauzinska, a graduate student from Krakow working on a Ph.D. in Polish Jewish genealogy, who visited the village and has pieced together parts of Paula’s family there.  Other events on the itinerary include a sunrise commemoration at Majdanek and spending the Sabbath with Warsaw’s Jewish community and seeing how Jewish life in Poland is being rebuilt. 

Two additional members of the CCNY community are going on the trip, as well, to help the Jewish Studies program produce a documentary.  Professor Andrzej Krakowski, Chair of CCNY’s Media and Communications Arts Department and a native of Poland, is cameraman.  Jennifer Lyne, a former Hollywood talent agent and writer, who recently graduated from CCNY with a B.A. in psychology, is producer. 

Ms. Moskowitz was introduced to Dr. Mittelman through Nehama Miller-Kohn, a colleague at CUNY-TV.  He invited her to speak to the class and later asked her to join them on the trip to Poland.

“Having the students involved has been great.  We hit it off from day one,” she said. “For them to be so into this Holocaust journey is unbelievable since they come from different backgrounds.”  Of the five students, two, Ms. Cepeda and Ms. Rodriguez, are of Dominican background.  A third, Ms. Farias, is Colombian-American.

The advanced seminar was made possible by a gift from City College alumnus Milton Gralla, ’48, and his wife, Shirley, through The City College Fund.

About The City College of New York

For 160 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 13,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.

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