HUC-JIR alumna Gosia Szymanska Weiss (SJNM ‘06) was recently honored by the President of Poland with the Knight Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, one of the country’s highest honors, in recognition of her outstanding services to the Polish American and American Jewish communities in building Polish-Jewish relations. The medal was presented by Ambassador Joanna Kozinska-Frybes, Consul General of Poland in Los Angeles, at the AJC Los Angeles Annual Meeting and Reception on April 23, 2013.
“I am elated and humbled to accept this medal from the President of Poland,” remarked Szymanska Weiss, a native of Poland, who moved to the US and has worked at AJC in Los Angeles since 2008. She currently serves as the Assistant Director for International Relations at AJC.
"I travel to Poland often, and my ties to my home country are very deep," stated Szymanska Weiss in her acceptance speech. "Though life brought me to the US, I feel that a piece of my heart is still there. I am so proud of my country - how it has blossomed in the last 24 years since the collapse of Communism, how it has embraced modernity, how the spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship has flourished. I am also proud that, as a nation and a state, Poland is reexamining its past and engaging in the sometimes difficult public conversation about culpability, complicity, shame, pride, pain, and Poland’s complex, 1,000-year relationship with the Jewish people. Let me tell you about my relationship with Poland. I love being Jewish and I love being Polish. But most of all, I love that we live in a time where I neither want to choose nor have to choose between these two identities."
Szymanska Weiss manages the relationship building activities of AJC with a few dozen Consulates General in the Los Angeles region. She also is the coordinator of AJC’s Polish-Jewish Exchange program. Before taking this position, Szymanska Weiss worked as the managing director of Beit Warszawa, a Progressive Jewish community in Warsaw. She has served on the Board of PUSZ, Polish Union of Jewish Students, and has been involved with HUC-JIR, the Shalom Institute in Malibu, and IKAR in Los Angeles.
A native of Lodz, Poland, Szymanska Weiss graduated in 2006 from HUC-JIR’s School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and University of Southern California with a double master’s in Jewish Nonprofit Management and Public Administration. Prior, she was a student of applied linguistics at the Warsaw University and completed her bachelor’s in Business Management at the Kozminski University in Warsaw.
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Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu