AVENUE OF THE RIGHTEOUS840 Vernon AvenueGlencoe, Illinois 60020

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:: The Polish Rescuers Project

The Interfaith Coalition to Honor Polish Rescuers is a group of religious and secular organizations and individuals gathered to recognize the Polish rescuers--the largest group of Righteous honored by Yad Vashem.

The Avenue of the Righteous, an interfaith organization of Chicago's North Shore that honors and remembers the Righteous, initiated a year-long project to celebrate the Polish Righteous' good deeds. After inviting other groups to join the project--and receiving a tremendous response--the Avenue organized the Interfaith Coalition to Honor Polish Rescuers.

Through awareness of these heroic individuals, we aim to encourage brave and virtuous behavior by all people in their daily lives. By remembering ordinary people who did extraordinary things, we highlight the value of moral courage, and treating those who are different with care and respect.

Sponsored by the Interfaith Coalition to Honor Polish Rescuers, the Polish Rescuers Project is a year-long series of activities to enhance community awareness of these individuals and their noble deeds. Programs are planned to promote education, culture, dialogue and the support of those aging rescuers in need.

Our Partner Organizations

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is a national organization that aims

  1. to safeguard the welfare and security of Jews throughout the world,
  2. to strengthen the basic principles of pluralism around the world, as the best defense against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry and
  3. to enhance the quality of American Jewish life by helping to ensure Jewish continuity and deepen ties between American and Israeli Jews.

The Association of Descendents of the Shoah-Illinois is dedicated to remembering those who perished in the Shoah (Holocaust). To carry on the spirit of the survivors' mission ("to ensure that their legacy will be carried on through future generations"), the Association provides a variety of programming for descendants and the community at large.

Avenue of the Righteous

The Chicago Friends of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous promotes local awareness and support for the New York-based Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR). Rabbi Harold Schulweis created the JFR in 1986 to fulfill the traditional Jewish commitment to hakarat hatov, the searching out and recognition of goodness. it is the only organization that provides direct financial assistance to those aging Righteous who are in need. Currently the Foundation cares for 1,700 surviving Righteous in 30 countries. Close to 1,000 of these people are in Poland. Through its educational programs, the Foundation also educates future generations about the rescuers' extraordinary acts and the importance of moral courage.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is the umbrella body for 40 major Jewish organizations in the Chicago area, and it is the community relations arm of the Jewish Federation/Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. The JCRC serves as the instrument through which diverse Jewish organizations collectively make policy on behalf of its constituent members. It also mobilizes the community for action by interacting with government officials, the media, and other ethnic and religious communities.

The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry at Catholic Theological Union prepares future church leaders through academic training and scholarships, and sponsors theological research, public discussion, and topical conferences. The Center is committed to fostering the understanding and study of issues closely associated with the late Cardinal Bernardin, including Catholic-jewish dialogue and peacemaking.

The Lira Ensemble is a professional performing arts company that specializes in Polish music, song, and dance. The Lira Ensemble includes five performing groups that present the music of Poland, sung in the Polish language, and Polish folk and court dances. The company's repertoire includes popular and folk songs and dances, as well as classical selections. The mission of the Lira Ensemble is to help acquaint Polish Americans with the richness of their thousand-year-old heritage of music and dance, and to help other Americans learn about and appreciate Polish culture and traditions.

National-Louis University is a private, not-for-profit university that educates a broad range of students, including those who historically have had limited access to higher education. The mission of National-Louis University is to develop highly competent and humane individuals for service and leadership through quality academic programs. The education provided by National-Louis University enables the learner to fulfill personal and professional goals as a citizen of a diverse society and a global community.

For more than 75 years, the Polish American Association has helped several generations of individuals who have left their homeland to begin new lives in America. Founded in 1922 as the Polish Welfare Association, it is the nation's only human services organization that provides comprehensive bilingual and bicultural services to the Polish community. Each month over 3,000 people are served through education, employment, immigration, outreach and an array of social services. These services target the poor, seniors, youth, the homeless, and victims of domestic violence. Specific programs include substance abuse treatment, parenting classes and homemaker services to the elderly and disabled.

The Polish American Leadership Initiative (PALI) was recently formed in order to enhance the participation of the Polish American community in the affairs of the greater community to maximize its representation and influence at every level. PALI will be a resource to existing organizations and a catalyst for the empowerment of the Polish American community through initiatives promoting leadership, representation, community service and cultural heritage.

The Polish American Priests Association is a national organization that brings together priests of Polish American heritage working with and for Polonia in the United States. The organization creates a forum for priests to share ideas, to support each other, and to develop a pastoral plan for ministry to Polonia. The Chicago chapter was founded in 1990.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) is an international congregation of Roman Catholic women religious ministers headquartered in Rome, Italy. Represented in 31 countries around the globe, the SSND is one of the largest mission-sending congregations with about 5,000 members. In response to contemporary society's varied needs, the SSND responds as educators, and it views education as a means of transforming the world into a more just place.

Individual Partners
  Consulate General of Israel
  Consulate General of Poland
  Lisa Derman
  Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
  Rabbi Samuel Gordon
  Ambassador John Kordek
  Rabbi Harold Kudan
  Rev. John Pawlikowski, O.S.M.
  Rev. Francis Rog, C.R.
  Rabbi Herman Schaalman
  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
  Maynard Wishner
  Alderman Michael Wojcik

The Coalition welcomes your contributions to help fund these ongoing activities, as well as continuing to provide direct financial help to those aging Polish Rescuers who are in financial need. Checks should be made payable to "Avenue of the Righteous-PRP" and mailed to 840 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022.

 

A Modern Day Tale of Respect

The space at 840 Vernon Avenue is a particularly fitting location for a benefit to honor and support the Righteous, most of whom were Christians.

The temple at 840 Vernon Avenue was built in 1928 to serve North Shore Congregation Israel.

When the congregation outgrew its space in 1972, they moved elsewhere and sold the building to The Willows, a Catholic girls' school. At the same time, Rabbi Harold Kudan began a new congregation in Glencoe called Am Shalom. It met at various community locations, including North Shore Methodist Church, the Winnetka Congregational Church, and the Glencoe Union Church.

During a chance conversation in 1982, an Am Shalom board member, who was friends with a Willows board member, discovered that the school was moving to Park Ridge. Looking for a facility of its own, Am Shalom struck a deal to buy the Vernon Avenue space.

Upon their return, temple members discovered that the Catholic girls' school had left the sanctuary completely untouched. Because they saw it was a sacred place of Jewish worship, they felt that to alter it in any way would be insensitive.

Instead, they used a small auditorium lounge as their worship space for the entire 10 years they occupied the building. In the sanctuary, a Union Prayer Book was still on top of the organ, and a 7-branch candelabra remained on the alter (bimah)-all unmoved from when North Shore Congregation Israel had left 10 years earlier.

How appropriate that as we gathered to support the Righteous Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, we do so in place where another group of Christians, during another time in history, put their own needs aside in order to help preserve and respect Judaism's past, present, and future.

 

 

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