By Yael Friedman, Senior Manager of International Fellowships 

A New Chapter Auschwitz Jewish Center
Yael Friedman and members of the American Service Academies Program

Since I took the position of Senior Manager of International Fellowships in December, time has flown by. As an Auschwitz Jewish Center (AJC) Fellow alumna from 2013, I had been interested in working with the AJC ever since. I was, and continue to be, inspired by their important work to teach about the Jewish history of Oświęcim, examine the impact of the Holocaust on the town and in Poland, and fight contemporary discrimination. Having worked even more closely with the AJC since 2015, leading the American Service Academies Program and then the Fellows program as well the following year, this view has been solidified. It is even more rewarding to be part of the program planning process. It is a privilege to prepare and guide military cadets and midshipmen, college and graduate students, and adults, through meaningful engagement with the historical content as well as the personal and emotional experience of being in Poland.

The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and two Jews who left Poland during the interwar years, I have a personal connection to this history. My grandmother has regaled me with stories of life in Włocławek, Poland, both the happy memories and those that are deeply upsetting. It wasn’t until I traveled through Poland with AJC staff, my second trip to Poland, that I was able to see some beauty in Poland and develop a deeper understanding of its complex history. With every group, visiting sites related to Polish history, Jewish history, and the Holocaust, is a new and unique experience, and I’m looking forward to many more!

Over these past few months I have had the opportunity to connect with many of you, by phone and in person, and hope to meet many more. I look forward to working with you. Let me know if I can be of any help to you and stay in touch!

The Auschwitz Jewish Center is operated by the Museum in Oświęcim, Poland. For additional blog entries by and about the Auschwitz Jewish Center, please visit All Spring 2017 newsletter articles are found here.