Mazal tov to Aga Cahn

Mazal tov to Aga Cahn, who has been awarded the Father Stanisław Musial Prize for inter-faith activities in Poland. The award is given to people who have made outstanding contributions to Christian-Jewish and Polish-Jewish dialogue and cooperation.

Aga is one of our joint Cheder headteachers – looking after our children’s religious education with enthusiasm and dedication – as well as our outreach coordinator. In that role, she works tirelessly to teach schools and non Jewish organisations about Judaism. Every year, she organises dozens of school visits to the synagogue and visits many more schools to teach children about Judaism as part of their RE curriculum. She also runs workshops for RE teachers all across the region. Aga is one of our most dedicated volunteers and her passion for Judaism is recognised by the many thank you letters sent to her by school children.

When she is not volunteering for Beth Shalom, Aga is involved in many initiatives to promote the dialogue between religions both here in the UK and in her native Poland. So we are delighted to learn that she has received this prestigious award for her dedicated service to interfaith cooperation.


For more details about Aga’s award, please follow the link (in Polish):

On March 1, the Father Stanisļaw Musiał Award was presented in Kraków. The Award is presented yearly, since 2008, to people who have made outstanding contributions to Christian-Jewish and Polish-Jewish dialogue. Each year it is given in two categories: for publications and social activities. Recipients for the year 2024 are Robert Szuchta and Agnieszka Cahn.
Agnieszka Cahn is a social activist, animator, teacher, researcher of the history of the Jews of Myślenice and theologian. For years, she has been working to restore the memory of the Jewish inhabitants of Myślenice, but also to break stereotypes and build inter-faith dialogue. She is the originator and co-founder of the Myślenice Community Association, which undertakes various initiatives in this field.
Examples include: organizing a series of events devoted to the problem of tolerance and dialogue “Myślenice of the Two Nations” or a several-year project “Multicultural Tatras” building attitudes of dialogue through meetings, exhibitions and concerts. It was thanks to the association’s efforts that Jews from Myślenice murdered during the war were commemorated with a plaque, under which celebrations on the anniversary of deportation have been organized for almost 20 years. Agnieszka Cahn’s activities also include documentary films, educational books, and the bilingual guide “Myślenice. Traces of Shtetl Life. A town trail”, numerous articles, events, walks and lectures, as well as co-creating a database of Holocaust victims from Myślenice and the surrounding area.
The winner combines her involvement in commemorating the Jewish community of Myślenice with life in Cambridge, where she is the co-Headteacher of the cheder of the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue. She is responsible there, among others, for coordinating an educational program for non-Jewish schools visiting the synagogue and conducting classes on Judaism. She takes action to promote tolerance and dialogue regardless of the place and circumstances.
Robert Szuchta is a historian, a teacher at one of Warsaw’s high schools, and a co-creator of history teaching textbooks. He is the author of the fundamental – and popularizing – work “1000 years of the history of Polish Jews. A journey through the ages. In the introduction to it he wrote: “‘There is no Jewish history without the history of Poland, just as there is no Polish history without the history of Polish Jews.’ Neither we, Poles, nor contemporary Jews will understand our own history if we do not learn the history of Polish Jews. These are the obverse and reverse of the same coin.”
Robert Szuchta’s achievements also include several dozen articles on the history and methodology of teaching about the Holocaust. He also shares his knowledge and passion during lectures and meetings. He is also a co-author – together with Piotr Trojański – of the first teaching program in Poland about the history, culture and extermination of Jews, as well as an auxiliary book for teaching history “Holocaust – understand why”. In recent days, a new publication by the same authors has been published: “The Holocaust. (Un)learned history lesson”, which is a rebuilt and supplemented version of the original textbook.
Robert Szuchta is a member of the Program Council of the Association Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia “Open Republic of Poland”. He cooperates with the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and with many educational institutions in Poland and around the world. All of its activities are aimed at ensuring that reliable knowledge about the history of Polish Jews can reach a wide audience. In the era of disinformation, such educators, teachers and popularizers of history are especially needed to help understand the world.
The award ceremony took place on Friday, March 1 at the Ignatianum University in Krakow. On the eve of the ceremony, on February 29, a scientific symposium will also be organized there. “Synagogue and Ecclesia – past, present, future.” The program includes two main panels, the first of which will be devoted to the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, and the second to the practical aspects of dialogue between both religions. The event will be attended by, among others: prof. Abraham Skorka, Cardinal Grzegorz Ryś, sister Dr. Katarzyna Kowalska, priest prof. Henryk Pietras, prof. Stanisław Krajewski, priest Dr. Manfred Deselaers, prof. Łukasz Sroka, Janusz Poniewierski and Henryk Woźniakowski.
The award was established by the “Przymierze” Club of Christians and Jews. Its founders are the Rector of the Jagiellonian University, the Mayor of Krakow and the Jewish Community in Krakow. The winners are selected by the Chapter chaired by the Rector of the Jagiellonian University. The award is granted in two categories: for work promoting the spirit of Christian-Jewish and Polish-Jewish dialogue and cooperation, and for undertaking social initiatives for reconciliation.
Patron of the Award, Fr. Stanisław Musiał SJ (1938-2004), was a persistent spokesman for Christian-Jewish dialogue, consistently criticized all manifestations of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, for which he was honored, with the Jan Karski award. From 1981 he was the editor of “Tygodnik Powszechny”, and in 1990-1991 deputy editor-in-chief. He also published, among others, in “Gazeta Wyborcza”, “Wprost”, “Polin” and “Midrasz”. Fr. Musiał was the author of an important book condemning the sin of anti-Semitism entitled “Black is black.” After his death, on the initiative of the Krakow Jewish community, at the Jewish cemetery in Krakow at ul. A plaque dedicated to his memory was unveiled on Miodowa street.
In previous years, the winners of the Award were: prof. Jan Błoński and the City and Commune of Chmielnik, prof. Joanna Tokarska-Bakir and Bogdan Białek, prof. prof. Bożena and Jerzy Wyrozumscy and Tomasz Pietrasiewicz and the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theater” Center in Lublin, Anna Lebet-Minakowska and Fr. Manfred Deselaers, Stefan Wilkanowicz and the informal Group of Friends from Olkusz (Ireneusz Cieślik, Olgerd Dziechciarz, Krzysztof Kocjan, Dariusz Rozmus), prof. Stanisław Krajewski and Mirosław Skrzypczyk, priest. Romuald Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel and Zofia Radzikowska, prof. Jan Małecki and prof. Aleksander Skotnicki, Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota and prof. Wacław Wierzbieniec, priest prof. Michał Czajkowski and Urszula Antosz-Rekucka, Archbishop Henryk Muszyński and Adam Bartosz, prof. Jan Grosfeld and Dariusz Popiela, Marian Turski and Anna Brzyska, Karolina Panz and Wioleta Szczepocka, and Małgorzata Międzobrodzka and Agnieszka Mysakowska.
The Christian and Jewish Club “Przymierze” brings together people from various Christian and Jewish backgrounds. It is involved in dialogue initiatives, including the organization of the Judaism Day celebrations in the Catholic Church. It systematically informs about important events in the field of Christian-Jewish relations via a newsletter and Facebook profile.