Sigmunt A. Rolat has passed away

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Sigmunt A. Rolat, the founder of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the creator and great friend of the Museum.

On this sad day we remember his legacy and his words, which for us are not only the wise words of a witness of history, but also a reminder and a guide for the future: 

Jews lived in Poland for a thousand years. When Spain and Portugal expelled their Jews, in Poland Jews were at home and were granted privileges. And so we lived in Poland in times good and bad. Jews enriched Poland as its commercial and cultural engine. Jews fought in Poland’s wars. Polish Jews who emigrated and their descendants won Nobel prizes, enriched the world and played a key role in building the State of Israel. 

My children and grandchildren, young Jews everywhere and Polish young people must know this and the memory must live! That is the raison d’etre of our Museum. I think that any person who visits our Museum, if he is Jewish he will be proud and if he is not Jewish he will walk out knowing all there is to know about the Jewish history in Poland.” 

Born on July 1, 1930 Sigmunt A. Rolat was a businessman from New York. Philanthropist, activist for culture and Polish-Jewish dialogue, patron of numerous events related to the Jewish history – among others Singer Jewish Culture Festival in Warsaw and Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow. He was an honorary chairman of the Friends of the Jewish Culture Festival Association. Rolat was a Distinguished Benefactor of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, one of the first donors of the institution, member of the Museum’s Board and co-chairman of the North American Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (American Friends of POLIN Museum). He was the president of the World Society of Częstochowa Jews and Their Descendants and a honorary citizen of Częstochowa city. For many years he has been supporting Częstochowa Philharmonic. He sponsored the 8th edition of the Bronisław Huberman Violin Festival – another great citizen of Częstochowa, of which he was a great fan and who in 2013 was announced the patron of the Philharmonic. He was also a Chairman of the American Friends of the Shalom Foundation and supporter to the Grand Theater – National Opera in Warsaw. 

During the German occupation he lost his mother and an older brother. In 1946 he was released from the HASAG work camp and in 1948 he left for the United States. He graduated from Cincinnati University and from New York University. He was a president of Oxford International Corporation – company exporting from United states to Europe, to the Middle East and the Far East, Australia and Africa. He was a former member of the Supervisory Board of Ben Gurion University in Beersheba in Israel, member of the Research Institute on Holocaust of Davis S. Wyman, member of the Supervisory Board of the Kosciuszko Foundation, member of the Taube Council and Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, American Association for Jewish Heritage in Poland and the Presidential Council of Graduate Theological Union in Berkley in California. He was a proud of the title of ‘Patron of Art’ that he received from the authorities of his hometown of Częstochowa, the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland that he received from President Lech Kaczynski on the April 15. 2008 and Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland that he received form President Bronisław Komorowski on September 24, 2013 in New York.