Friday, March 27, 2009

Jozef The father of Janusz Korczak

He passed along to his son Janusz the temperament of a visionary and a frustrated idealist , in my opinion, which Janusz Korczak was ultimately to become as this passage below from Lifton's biography indicates. His ideal of the craft schools for Jewish youth at that time was unrealizable and unattainable and perhaps even not wanted by the orthodox community for the day, not especially enthused for crafting a strong Polish nation state. He indeed was a crusader. Janusz was to go into a different equally passionate endeavor child psychology but with the same fervor.

Jozef was twenty when he wrote his first article for the Israelite (a
progressive Polish-language bimonthly which had just begun publication),
describing his nervousness on arriving in the big city to study law. In those
days Warsaw was a bustling tree-lined capital of half a million people, one in
six of whom were Jews who, except for a small assimilated circle, lived in
squalid poverty. With its Royal Palace, occupied by the Czar's Viceroy, its
skyline dominated by the onion-shaped domes of the huge Russian church, and its
cobblestone streets teeming with droshkies, wagons, porters, and vendors, Warsaw
could easily overwhelm an impressionable newcomer. Seeking a quiet place in
which to gather his thoughts, Jozef wandered into the synagogue on
Danilowiczowska Street, which, like everything else in this city, seemed grand
compared to what he had known in the provinces, only to have loud clanging from
the nail factory next door drown out the music and prayers. " Such things should
not be allowed to happen in a House of God, " he reported indignantly. It was
his first crusade, but not his last.
Like so many of his generation who had
become disillusioned with armed struggle after the failed insurrections against
the Czar, Jozef believed that the only way to create a strong Polish nation was
to build its economy from within. Wanting the Jewish people to be part ofthis
vision, he took time from his law studies to raise money for Polish-language
craft schools in both Lublin and W arsaw
, where poor Jewish boys and girls could
learn skills that would equip them to enter the Polish work force. Both he and
his younger brother Jakub, who would follow him in law, wrote articles promoting
those schools.

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