Dr Tomek Wiśniewski : “Polish-Jewish History: A Christian Documentary filmmaker’s view on remembering the Holocaust”
Over several decades, Dr Tomek Wiśniewski has meticulously documented Polish-Jewish history, has written numerous books and articles and produced a number of documentary films on the subject. He has worked tirelessly, as he puts it, ‟to ensure the past is not forgotten”. As well as teaching himself Hebrew, Dr Wiśniewski also speaks several other languages, including Esperanto, and authored a book about its founder, Jewish Bialystoker Ludwik Zamenhof. Tomek pioneered the documentation of Jewish cemeteries in shtetls of the Podlasie region of Poland, including several thousand photographs of Jewish gravestones, along with those of Catholic, Muslim and Christian Orthodox faiths. This comprehensive research material can be viewed on <www.bagnowka.pl>, a website named after the Bialystok district of Poland, which contains the largest Jewish cemetery in north-east Poland, alongside Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran (Protestant) cemeteries – all visible reminders of the region’s rich multicultural heritage nearly obliterated by the Holocaust. That these lie peacefully next to each other in Bagnówka provides a potent symbol of what Tomek is seeking to achieve in the spirit of partnership and tolerance, as illustrated in his short films.
Tomek has been committed to honouring and documenting, through photography, books and film, the history of the Jewish people in Poland and their cultural legacy. Many Jews around the world can trace their ancestry back to Poland and especially Bialystok, the major city of eastern Poland. Tomek lives in Bialystok and regularly guides visitors from around the world with roots in Bialystok.
Before World War II, Bialystok’s population was more than 60% Jewish, giving it the highest concentration of Jews of any city in the world. An estimated 200,000 Jews from the Bialystok region were murdered, including those taken to nearby Treblinka. Today, only about half a dozen Jews live in the city, which was largely rebuilt after heavy destruction in the war. Tomek has intimate knowledge of this history and with his professional journalism background will captivate his audiences in New Zealand.
A talented screenwriter, cameraman, editor and director, Dr Wiśniewski produces moving and informative works, all on a tight budget, and is currently focused on documenting elderly Poles reminiscing about their country prior to 1939. Much of Tomek’s work is available via the YouTube channel <youtube.com/user/bagnowka7> which has two thousand subscribers and has been visited over three million times. Some of his films can be viewed at: <https://youtu.be/OvrXFjzOz8E>. Others:
Tomek was born 1958 in Olsztyn, Poland (his mother was born nearby in Vilnius, present day Lithuania; father born near Krakow).
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Conference on “Spirit Possession: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives”
A Conference in Association with The George Sainsbury Foundation and Theological and Religious Studies, School of Humanities, University of Auckland, New Zealand, 6-8 July 2017.
The conference brings together thirteen international and New Zealand speakers who will address the subject of spirit possession from a range of disciplinary perspectives including psychiatry, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and law. The conference is also open to participants from interested public bodies such as government and public agencies and religious communities who find themselves dealing with claims of spirit possession in our increasingly plural society.
Details on Conference speakers, abstracts, registration and programme details can all be found on the Conference website at: <https://spauckland2017.wordpress.com>.
Professor Douglas Pratt speaks on “Religious Fundamentalism and Extremism”
Monday 26 June 2017, at the Religious Diversity Centre, University of Otago House, 385 Queen Street, Auckland, in the RDC’s classroom, 7:00-9:00pm. This Seminar is open to the public with a $10 koha. For more information please contact the RDC at <email@example.com>.
Professor Pratt holds appointments as Adjunct Professor (Theology & Interreligious Studies) at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Waikato, and Adjunct Associate Professor (Research) in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Australia. A former President of the Australian Association for the Study of Religion (AASR) and the New Zealand Association for the Study of Religions (NZASR), Professor Pratt is the New Zealand Associate of the Australian-based UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific. He is also an Associate of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Doug’s areas of expertise are: Christianity, Islam, Christian-Muslim relations and dialogue, religious fundamentalism, religion and terrorism, religious diversity and interfaith engagement.
Interfaith Social Justice Theology Seminar
Wednesday 14 June 2017, Te Ara Hou, 100 Morrinsville Rd., Hamilton. This Seminar is jointly sponsored by the Anglican Action Centre for Social Justice, the Religious Diversity Centre (RDC), the Waikato Interfaith Council (WIFCO) and the University of Waikato Islamic Studies Group. This Seminar is free and open to the public.
While different religious and secular traditions hold unique and distinct doctrines, they also share some very powerful values. Social justice is one such value that can bring together people of all faiths and no faith to join forces and make the world a more just and humane place for this generation and generations to come. In this light Anglican Action’s Centre for Social Justice, in conjunction with the Religious Diversity Centre, the Waikato Interfaith Council, and the University of Waikato Islamic Studies Group, is holding a seminar on ‘The Theology of Social Justice’ aiming to bring experts from different religious backgrounds together to discuss the particular social teachings of a variety of faith and belief traditions, with the possibility of joining forces to take a joint action in promoting social justice both locally and globally. This first seminar (of an expected series of seminars) will focus on the particular theologies of social justice from among a variety of traditions and their implications for our time.
This seminar is free and open to the public. Prior registration is not required although an RSVP would be appreciated for catering purposes. Morning Tea is being provided by Anglican Action. Times listed are approximate. To RSVP, or for additional information, please contact Dr Mortaza Shams at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Methodist Interfaith Resource Day:
Saturday 13 May 2017, Hamilton East Methodist Church, Hamilton
RDC War and Peace Conversazione: Navies, Warships, Arms: War and Peace?
RDC Office, University of Otago House, 385 Queen Street, Auckland
14 November 2016
Religion, the Media and the (Un)making of Prejudice towards New Zealand’s Muslims
Auckland, 15 May 2016; Dunedin, 16 May 2016.
Dr John Shaver’s work is concerned with understanding how and why religions unite and divide groups of people, the dynamics of religious change in Oceania, and the effects of inequality on decision making and health. He is currently part of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study. In addition to New Zealand, he has conducted research in the Czech Republic, Fiji, Mauritius and the United States