San Francisco Celebrates Its Sister City Relationship With Krakow
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and other dignitaries that included Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube, last night attended a reception in celebration of San Francisco's sister city relationship with Krakow, Poland.
Mayor Newsom said he hoped that this would not be a "paper" relationship and that there will be an active partnership and exchange of people and ideas between the two cities.
Krakow is one of the oldest University towns in Europe and produces more than 200,000 graduates every year. Companies such as Google have opened R&D centers there, attracted by the high quality of the workforce and the high quality of life.
Tad Taube, a prominent Bay Area philanthropist was a driving force in establishing the sister city relationship. Mr Taube was born in Krakow and managed to leave in 1939, just months before the second world war broke out. He is an Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland and he also heads the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.
I will be writing more about Krakow and links with the Bay Area.
Here is more information on Krakow's sister city relationship with San Francisco from the Krakow Post:
Although very different on the surface, the two cities have much in common. For starters, the size of Krakow's population is very similar to that of San Francisco's 764,000 inhabitants. Both cities also hold cultural significance in their respective countries and function as centres of scientific research.
...San Francisco's active Polish community, which supports collaboration with Polish institutions and maintains Polish traditions abroad, was also an important attribute.
Part of the ongoing tragedy of the Holocaust is that 1,000 years of Jewish history and culture in Poland has become essentially obscured. There are historical records and archives that detail how that 1,000-year period of Jewish culture shaped literature, art, history, language, science, philosophy, and religion. Ultimately, that 1,000-year period of Jewish culture served as the underpinnings of Western culture.
Roughly 75 percent of all American Jews are of Polish extraction. (When I describe Poland in this context, I'm talking about Greater Poland, whose boundaries have shifted rather dramatically over the centuries, on both the eastern and western borders.)
Now, people who are Irish- or Italian-Americans, they talk with great pride about their history and genealogy. American Jews are not so quick to talk about Poland. Quite the contrary, in fact. Many American Jews have such a hard time disassociating Poland from the Holocaust that they don't fully appreciate what their heritage contributed to all of Western culture. Unfortunately, many see Poland as nothing but a giant cemetery.
I want to restore a sense of perspective. I want American Jews to recognize and appreciate their Polish heritage. At the same time, I want Poland to recognize and appreciate its Jewish heritage. And I want everyone to understand and appreciate the massive contribution of Polish Jews to Western civilization.