A Talk with Steve Sherman

On Thursday, September 12, at 11 a.m., Steve Sherman will give a presentation of his recent 10 day study tour of Poland.   He was part of a delegation of “American Jewish leaders” invited by the Polish government to learn, engage and dialogue about Poland’s history, present and future.  The tour occurred at a time of controversy between Poland and the Jewish diaspora/Israel as well as at a time when Poland is seeking stronger ties with the U.S.  Meetings were held with Jewish community members (temples/JCCs) and government representatives (Ministries of Justice/Foreign Affairs).  The group had special tours of museums like Solidarity, WWII, History of Polish Jews, and Auschwitz, and attended the Jewish Festival.   

Poland has had a long, rich and tragic history of uneasy co-existence with its Jews.  In 1939, Poland was the cultural center of the Jewish world but was also experiencing rising anti-Semitism.  WWII brought the near annihilation of Poland’s 3M Jews by the Nazis, and many of its remaining survivors were expelled by Poland’s anti-Zionist Communists in 1968.  Non-Jewish Poles were also victims of the Nazis/Soviets as Poland was attacked and divided up by Germany and the Soviet Union.  Today, Poland has a fledgling Jewish community of about 10K and there are efforts to revitalize it.  Poland has preserved Auschwitz with its historical lessons and is seen by more than 2M annual visitors.  In contrast, the Parliament has enacted, almost unanimously, a law penalizing accusers of Poles for their complicity with the Nazis.  Poland is also seeking a NATO base in its country because of its concern about possible Russian aggression.

Mr. Sherman spent most of his career as a trial attorney with the U.S. Justice Department and also served in President Clinton’s White House Counsel’s Office.  He was a past Chair of the Federal Bar Assn.- Tax Section, and served on the Federal Interagency Holocaust Committee.  He has been attending classes at OLLI for the past couple of years.

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