Each year, the AJC welcomes volunteers and interns from around the world. Many young people from countries neighboring Poland serve on behalf of the Holocaust Memorial Service, an alternative experience to mandatory military service. This question and answer conversation is with our volunteer Marcus Rois, whose hometown is Vienna, Austria. We’re very glad that Marcus chose to work with us.

Photo by Franziska Bock

What attracted you to the AJC?
I like that the work here is diverse. Between the cafe and the museum there are several different types of projects to do. Also the topic of Jewish culture is, at least in my experience, drastically underrepresented in European Holocaust education, as well as European education in general. Teaching European students about Judaism, and in the process learning about it myself, seemed like a very worthwhile way to spend my time.

What are you enjoying most about your volunteer experience?
When volunteering here you meet a lot of great people. The other volunteers as well as the employees are very nice to work with.

How has volunteering affected you?
I’ve only been here for four months, but so far it has definitely made me more attentive to, among other things, politics, 20th century history, and Jewish culture. I’ve always been a curious person, but volunteering here gives me a lot of new things about which to be curious.

What is one thing you’d like others to know about the AJC or think people don’t know?
Well, museums in Oświęcim are obviously always in the shadow of the former concentration camp. So knowledge of our existence would be much appreciated. Apart from that I’d like people to know just how special our synagogue, the Chevra Lomdei Mishnayot Synagogue, really is. It’s not the biggest or fanciest synagogue, not even in this part of Poland. But the fact that it survived World War II so close to Auschwitz is a minor miracle in my opinion.

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: https://mjhnyc.org/tag/ajc. All Winter 2018 newsletter articles are found here.