The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland is the successor to the Central Jewish Committee, which was established in 1944. As a result of multi-annual efforts the Association was registered on 13 September 1951 in Warsaw. It was founded to create a legal and organisational framework for the Jewish Historical Institute existing since 1947. The founding members of the SŻIH included: Bernard Mark, Szymon Datner, Artur Eisenbach, Józef Sandel, Ernestyna Sandlowa, Perła Zelman, Froim [Efraim] Kupfer, Adam Rutkowski, Lejzor Piekarz, Izrael Szajn, Wolf Iwan, Rozalia Wszędobylska and Aniela Truskierowa.
For years, its objectives have remained unchanged. In accordance with its current statute the Association aims to preserve and commemorate the history and culture of Polish Jews; to support scientific research concerning Jewish history and culture (in particular the history and culture of Polish Jews) and to support educational activities. It promotes tolerance; it cooperates with other Jewish organisations, as well as with institutions sharing similar objectives in Poland and across the world; it spreads the knowledge about the body of work of the Institute of Judaic Sciences, the Central Judaic Library, the Jewish Historical Committee and the YIVO Yiddish Scientific Institute in Vilnius.
In 1993 the Association initiated the Museum of the History of Polish Jews as a project. We formed
an international team of experts to plan the institution and develop its core exhibition. The Museum was to be a space for open discussion, dialogue, and mutual respect — a place that would unite, not divide. Polish presidents and governments supported this idea, as did many organizations, countless individuals around the world, and our donors. Thanks to this massive support we could lead this project as an independent initiative until 2005.
On 25 January 2005 the Association, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Warsaw established a joint cultural institution, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. According to the founding agreement the public institutions would finance the construction of the Museum building, while the Association would finance and manage the creation of the core exhibition.
With the support of over 500 donors from around the world we raised PLN 145 million between 1993 and 2014 for the design and production of the core exhibition. PLN 20 million was raised for the Museum’s public and educational activities. We have continued to support various educational, cultural and scientific projects of the Museum since the opening of its core exhibition in October 2014.
We initiated two important multimedia projects that are currently being developed by POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews:
- in 2007 The Polish Righteous, which aim is to preserve the memory of Righteous Among the Nations from Poland and document the fate of Jews that they rescued,
- in 2009 Virtual Shtetl, a website documenting history of local Jewish communities on the territory of Poland before the war.
As a guardian of the material and spiritual legacy of Polish Jews since 1951 our Association has also been responsible for supporting the preservation and accessibility of a vast archive of materials from as early as the mid-seventeenth century, a library of about 80,000 volumes and extensive collections of paintings, prints, posters, photographs, sculpture and artifacts. One of our most valuable holdings is the Ringelblum Archive, also known as the Underground Warsaw Ghetto Archive, which UNESCO inscribed in its Memory of the World Register in recognition of its importance to humanity. From the moral perspective this legacy belongs to all Jewish people across the world.
We also support the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute. In the fall of 2017, the Institute celebrated its 70th anniversary. We have been connected throughout those years. During the early 1950s employees of the Institute helped to create the Association; then for over 40 years the Institute conducted its activities within the structures of the Association. Today we continue to work together, sharing the belief that the cooperation on a state and social level will further support the protection of Jewish heritage.
Our Association shares its collections and the historic building at 3/5 Tłomackie Street with the Jewish Historical Institute. We also collaborate with the Institute on various projects, the latest of which is the Oneg Shabbat program, the centerpiece of which is the permanent exhibition (opened in 2017), What We’ve Been Unable to Shout Out to the World, about the Ringelblum Archive and its creators. We also collaborate on the Delet web portal which allows access to the Archive and creation of virtual lessons.
Here you can find out more about our projects with the Institute.
We also support various other initiatives and each year award grants to organizations that preserve the thousand-year cultural and material heritage of Polish Jews.
Here you can find out more about our Grants.