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Naomi Seidman, Koret Professor of Jewish Culture and Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies, received an invitation to Warsaw by Anna Cialowicz, the Polish translator of Hillel Seidman's “Diary of the Warsaw Ghetto.” Hillel was a Jewish historian, Yiddish journalist, and community activist, in addition to being Naomi's late father. The diary will be published in Poland this spring, coinciding with the seventieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the largest Jewish revolt of World War II.
As a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, Hillel recorded the events leading up to the Uprising, which lasted from April 19 to May 16 in 1943.
Seidman explains, “My father had already been deported by then, but his diary provides important information about the participation of Orthodox Jews in the Underground, and the preparations for the Uprising. With the publication of his diary in Poland, this aspect of the story will finally be known in the city in which my father lived, studied, and witnessed the end of the Jewish life he had known, researched, and served.
“My father received his Ph.D. in 1940 at the University of Warsaw, but was never able to find an academic position. He was a member of the ‘Lost Generation’ of Jewish students who studied under Majer Balaban, the only Jewish Studies professor with a position in a Polish university. I sometimes see my own work, in part, as a tikkun for this loss, in my attempt to keep the memory of my father and his world alive.”
Along with attending a number of events commemorating the Uprising, Seidman will be speaking about her father and his diary at the Nozik Synagogue on Sunday, April 21, as part of the Jewish community's Nizkor memorial program.
Cialowicz will also take Seidman on a tour of her father’s Warsaw, insofar as it can still be found in a largely reconstructed post-war city.
“My father died in 1995, a week before I began to teach at the GTU. In some ways that letter from Anna has brought him back to me as I research his legacy in preparation for this talk, while also bringing me back to the city of his youth, education, and diary.”