2008 Consular Report



Submitted By


January 16, 2009


It is with great pride that I carried out my first year in the post of Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland. It is truly a privilege to serve the country of my birth and my adoptive home. Both of my parents and their ancestors lived in Poland, with family lineages reaching back several centuries in time. My parents brought me to the United States on the eve of World War II. It is here in America that I have spent the majority of my life. But both countries have always been special to me, and I am proud to act as a conduit between the two nations.

This report includes:

  • Overview of 2008 major goals and activities accomplished
  • Month-by-month report on most important Consular activities
  • Projected goals and activities for 2009


As the year 2008 turns into 2009, I am aware that it is almost 20 years since the fall of Communism and the victory of democracy in Poland and throughout East and Central Europe. Poland's political and economic development in one generation's time is phenomenal. In my travels between the United States and Poland, I am proud to witness a growing willingness on the part of Americans to reconsider their perceptions of Poland and its progress as a diplomatic ally of the United States. Many Americans had written Poland off in the aftermath of the Holocaust and during the Communist era, but today, there is a noticeable shift in American opinion and an interest in visiting the country and experiencing its culture. More than 200,000 Americans are now making the journey to Poland. I aim, in my role as Honorary Consul, to further this positive shift in public attitudes and also to help interested individuals and groups to visit there.

Hence, my goals as Honorary Consul are to:

  1. Advocate the interests of the Polish people, the Polish government and Polonia with respect to the U.S. government, state and local governments and the greater diplomatic community of the San Francisco Bay Area, and among the American people generally.
  2. Promote Polish culture and celebrate Polish historical anniversaries in the United States.
  3. Serve the Polish American community in my designated region and in the United States in general.
  4. Strengthen relationships between Polish and Jewish Americans and Christian and Jewish Poles.
  5. Aid visiting Polish citizens who may have legal or medical problems due to, for example, loss of documents, being a victim of theft or having a physical accident while traveling

Office and administration:

Our office is established at 1050 Ralston Avenue, in Belmont. Here, I have already begun to meet with community members, diplomats and Polish visitors to the Bay Area.

My Consular office cooperates closely with Christopher Kerosky, Honorary Consul of San Francisco, with whom we coordinate and cosponsor a number of activities. In addition, we co-supervise Consular staff, the legal intern Ewa Szafranska, whose duties include handling correspondences and informational requests, particularly those made in the Polish language.

Polish studies scholar Shana Penn, who oversees my family foundation and has a well established reputation in both the Polish American community and Polish society, handles academic, educational, cultural and some diplomatic matters for my Consular office. She also networks with the Polish community in the Bay Area and throughout the US. Ms. Penn's research and involvements with PAHA, PIAST, AAASS and other professional associations enable her to stay abreast of major intellectual and social currents that may influence or inform the Bay Area's Polish community.

I organized a group of volunteers, drawing from local community leaders in business, technology, academia and the arts to assist in raising public awareness of Polish history, culture and society among the Bay Area's diverse communities. These volunteers help my office to raise interest in and service people and organizations that are conducting business, academic pursuits and tourism in Poland.





Summary of Activities:

1. Relations with the Consulate in Los Angeles

I am in regular communication with the Consul General, Hon. Paulina Kapuscinska, of the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, and her staff. With her invaluable guidance, my Consular office and I prepare our goals and activities in the Bay Area and in service of sister activities in Los Angeles.

2. Relations with the Consular Corps and local government officials.

My staff and I attend the meetings of the Consular Corps. I also attended meetings of the Consular Corps with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. At Consul General Paulina Kapuscinska's behest, I arranged for the Government of Poland to award former US Secretary of State George Shultz with the Commander's Cross.

3. Relations with US government offices

I am actively involved in a communications campaign to encourage the US Senate to approve House legislation to allocate minimum $5 million to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, for which President Lech Kaczynski is Honorary Patron.

My relationships with Mayor Gavin Newsom and his staff, particularly Chief of Protocol, Charlotte Shultz, are strong. My office participated in the annual May 3rd Polish national flag-raising ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, which was attended by diverse members of the Bay Area community.

4. Sister Cities Initiative

I am particularly proud to report that in collaboration with Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky, we have successfully initiated a Sister Cities Relationship between Krakow and San Francisco. The proposal, initiated during a trip to Krakow, which my Consular office and my foundation hosted for Bay Area community leaders in July 2006, was discussed between the two Mayors, their offices and our Consular offices over the last 18 months. The agreements are now being prepared and will be officially signed by Mayor Gavin Newsom in San Francisco in May and presented to the Mayor of Krakow in the first week of July by a representative of Mayor Newsom's office, who will travel with a group of Bay Area leaders that I will be hosting in Krakow and Warsaw.

5. Media relations

I continue to publish Opinion Editorials in mainstream, Polish and Jewish press in the Bay Area and internationally including the Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and the Jewish Weekly of Northern California on a range of topics that promote the New Poland. My foundation's media outreach efforts led, for the first time, to significant national and international coverage of the annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow and other programs reflecting the revitalization of Jewish culture in Poland. Press coverage include the Chronicle of Philanthropy and CNN.

7. Community Building

I support a diverse range of cultural and educational activities in the Bay Area that help promote Polish history, culture and society. Events include art exhibitions, academic symposia, publishing and the arts.

8. Enhance Jewish-Polish relations

I am committed to strengthening relations between Polish and Jewish Americans and between Christian and Jewish Poles, working closely with the Honorary Consul of San Francisco, and engaging the cooperation of the Hoover Institution, Graduate Theological Union, Polish Radio, and the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco to help cosponsor public events.






Participated in the meeting of Honorary Consuls of the Western States organized by the Consul General for the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles. O was represented by deputy Shana Penn.


April 10: "March 1968" Symposium and Film "Dworzec Gdanski"

Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky, the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, and my Consular office co-sponsored a panel on the 40th anniversary of the epic March '68 political events in Communist Poland. The event was co-organized by the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU); the Department of Jewish Studies of the University of California at Berkeley (UCB); and the Taube Center for Jewish Studies, Stanford University.

Featured panelists were Dr. Irena Grudzinska-Gross, Professor of Comparative Literature and Executive Director, Institute for Human Sciences, Boston University, and Konstanty Gebert, Polish journalist Gazeta Wyborcza and founding publisher Midrasz magazine. Both Dr. Grudzinska-Gross and Mr. Gebert were participants in the dramatic 1968 events in Warsaw. Adding to the depth of the panel were Shana Penn, Visiting Scholar at the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at GTU, and Professor John Connelly, Department of History, UC Berkeley.

An audience of more than 75 were welcomed by Dr. Naomi Seidman, Koret Professor of Jewish Culture and Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at GTU and myself. The film "Dworzec Gdanski", a series of moving interviews with former "68ers" now mainly living in Israel, was made by acclaimed journalist Teresa Toranska.


May 2: Flag Raising Ceremony and Polish Constitution Day at City Hall in San Francisco. Mayor Gavin Newsom was represented by Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz. The event was co-organized by Honorary Consul Christopher Kerosky and my Consular office, Bay Area leaders of Polish groups.

May 9: Shabbat Dinner honoring the participants in the Next Chapter Project, a program linking Bay Area Holocaust survivors with teenagers that creates a bridge between the Bay Area and contemporary Poland, through research provided by the Warsaw Jewish Historical Institute and the Taube Foundation's Jewish Heritage Initiative in Poland.

May 30: Announcement of the creation of the Irena Sendlerowa Memorial Award. The award "Honors Polish men and women who, in the spirit of Irena Sendlerowa, protect Jewish life and promote Jewish cultural renewal in Poland."


June 11: Cosponsored an exhibition of works by Polish Jewish artist Arthur Szyk at the German Consulate in San Francisco. Szyk Society Curator Irvin Ungar introduced "Arthur Szyk - Drawing Against National Socialism and Terror," the upcoming exhibition at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin.


July 4: Presentation of the first annual Irena Sendlerowa Memorial Award to Janusz Makuch, creator of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. The award was presented by Shana Penn at a concert of the Jewish Culture Festival held in the Tempel Synagogue, Krakow.

July 22: Honorary Consul for Austria Donald C. Burns hosted luncheon in San Francisco to discuss Polish-American relations. Attended by Consular Representative Ernest Weiner.


August 18: German Consul General in San Francisco hosts forum and reception to introduce the Bay Area community to the European interns of the international NGO, Humanity in Action, including four Polish interns assigned to Bay Area NGOs for the fall semester.

August 29: Japanese Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine hosted a meeting in San Francisco to discuss Japanese economic ties with Poland. Attended by Consular Representative Ernest Weiner.

August-October: My Consular office and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture co-hosted intern Jan Spiewak, from Warsaw, for 3 months. At age 21, Śpiewak became the first chairman of ZOOM [Żydowska Ogólnopolska Organizacja Młodzieżowa - All-Poland Jewish Youth Organization], a group he co-founded with a few other young Polish Jews in March 2007. Śpiewak is helping the Taube Foundation create its new cultural tourism program in Poland. Śpiewak's role includes recruiting ZOOM members to be trained as Jewish heritage tour guides, providing educational and sightseeing information for university-aged visitors from abroad, and offering the Taube Foundation important insights into the needs and interests of young Polish Jews as well as of the larger Jewish community in Warsaw.


September 26: Mayor Gavin Newsom hosted a diplomatic event at City Hall in honor of the sister city relationship between San Francisco and Assisi, Italy. Attended by Consular Representative Ernest Weiner.


October 1: Launch of Consul Taube's official website http://www.taubephilanthropies.org/node/75

October 8: Rhoda Goldman Plaza in San Francisco open meeting for residents to learn about the New Poland and Poland-Israel relations. Presentation given by Consular Representative Ernest Weiner. About 60 attendees.

October 15: Mayor's Consular Corps reception at the Matrix Restaurant in San Francisco. Attended by Consular Representative Ernest Weiner.

October 29-December 5, 2008: Reception and Exhibition Opening: "Polish Heroes: Those Who Rescued Jews," An Exhibition Featuring Photographs by Chris Schwarz (Co-curated by the Auschwitz Jewish Center, the Galicia Jewish Museum, and the Polish/American/Jewish Alliance for Youth Action)

At the Koret Pavilion at The Ziff Center, Hillel at Stanford University

Event Co-Sponsors:

Tad Taube, Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland

Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture

Hillel at Stanford

Hoover Institution

Taube Center for Jewish Studies, Stanford

Consul General of the Republic Of Poland, Los Angeles

Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages at Stanford

Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Stanford

Department of History at Stanford

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford

October 29: Exhibition Opening Reception

October 29-February 2, 2009: "Jan Karski: Righteous Among the Nations", Joint Exhibition at Hoover Institution


November 10: Annual luncheon for Consular Corps at Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco. Attended together with Consul personnel, Shana Penn and Ernest Weiner.

November 12: Advanced Screening: "In the Name of Their Mothers-The Story of Irena Sendler", with filmmaker Mary Skinner. Hillel at Stanford, organized in conjunction with the exhibition showing of "Polish Heroes."

November 24: Luncheon hosted by Consul General Carlos Felix of Mexico to discuss the status and activities of the Jewish Community in Poland. Attended by Consular Representative Ernest Weiner.


December 3: Lecture Presentation: "Karski's Testimony-Hoover Institution's Collection of his Papers," Zbigniew L. Stanczyk, European Collection Specialist, Hoover Institution Hillel at Stanford, organized in conjunction with the exhibition showing of "Polish Heroes."

December 6: Participated in the annual Polish Consulate Christmas Party hosted by the Consul General of Los Angeles at the home of Stanley and Helena Krol, of Beverly Hills.

December 8-9: Hosted two fundraising receptions in San Francisco on behalf of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews


2009 Projected Goals and Activities

1. In 2009, I will broaden and deepen my office's community wide outreach efforts including expanded use of the media such as the local Polish radio program and the creation of a designated website; dissemination of Poland-related information; servicing some of the tourism needs of visitors to Poland; encouraging genealogical research; and arranging business and technology connections between Poland and the Bay Area.

A sampling of upcoming activities and events follows:

March: Symposium at Graduate Theological Union (GTU), titled "Destination Ashkenazi: Jewish Identity and Cultural Tourism to Poland." Speakers include: Shana Penn (GTU), Erica Lehrer (Concordia College), Karen Underhill (Univ of Chicago).

May: We are arranging a symposium to mark the 20th anniversary of Democracy's triumph over Communism.

The symposium will coincide with our organizing of Polish national flag raising ceremony at San Francisco City Hall.

We will announce our annual award in honor of Polish resistance fighter and

Righteous Gentile Irena Sendler on the one-year anniversary of Mrs. Sendler's death.

June: Mayor Newsom will host reception to celebrate the new Sister Cities relationship with Krakow.

June-July: We will bring 15 community leaders from the Bay Area to Krakow and Warsaw on June 30-July 8. We will meet with the Mayor of Krakow to formalize the sister-city relationship.

September: We will organize a special public program on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and then by the USSR, marking the beginning of WWII.

Autumn: Cohost a second IT symposium with Honorary Consul of San Francisco and Silicon Valley IT firms.

Thank you for your kind review of this Consular Report.




Thaddeus N. Taube

January 16, 2009