Community Grapevine

Center for Jewish Studies opens in Bratislava

Comenius University has opened a Center for Jewish Studies. At a ceremony on November 5, Slovak-born American professor Egon Mittelman, the new center's director, noted, "The tragic events of the past did away with a flourishing Jewish tradition in Slovakia, so we are happy today to have the opportunity to put the past in its proper perspective."

Elaborating on his speech, Mittelman said afterwards that because of the Holocaust, during which Slovakia collaborated with Nazi Germany, there has been a reduction of "Jewish consciousness" in Slovakia, "with no resources, either human or physical," to renew the links with a past that all but perished 50 years ago. "This institute will hopefully enable Jewish culture to recapture its proper place and cultural perspective," he said.

"Right now [the Center] is still in the nature of an experiment," Mittelman added, "because we don't know who our students will be." He said that so far about 80 students have expressed interest in the center, which he said will offer a "general cultural introduction" to Judaica, and later studies in the Hebrew and Yiddish languages. Mittelman said the center will promote understanding of all aspects of Jewish culture from the Talmud to Woody Allen's movies. "You can't understand Woody Allen unless you understand his identity problems" as an American Jew, Mittelman said.

Mittelman described the academic community's response to the Center as "tremendous." "We've had support from top to bottom. Everyone I talk to is excited about it." "Because of the unfortunate events of the past, many people here feel there is a problem with anti-semitism" in Slovakia, Mittelman continued.

"Whether that is true or not, we can now give those people the chance to address their own feel-ings" toward the Jewish commun-ity's place in Slovak history and culture.

The Inštitút Judaistiky Univerzity Komenského is located at Panenská ulica 4, 811 03 Bratislava, tel. 07/531-6867; e-mail

Bratislava-Cleveland Sister Cities to hold meeting

In the five years Bratislava and the American city of Cleveland, Ohio, have been formally linked as sister cities, they have engaged in some impressive cultural, educational, and business activities.

Edward Keshock, president of the Cleveland affiliate organization, will be present at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, at Batislava City Hall to share his organizing experiences and encourage ideas and cooperation for the future. All are welcome!

Photos by blind children on display

Bibiana, Bratislava's child-ren's library, is currently showing photographs by blind children titled "Seeing the Unseen" (Videnie Nevideného). The idea for the show came from eight children aged 10 to 14 from local schools and institutions, said Mária Šajdíková, Bibiana's director. Šajdíková said the reasons expressed by some children for their desire to render images of people and things they themselves cannot see can be compelling in themselves, noting as one example a boy who said he wanted to photograph his teacher because he could "see" her voice and the feelings between them. "It's a very human idea," said Šajdíková. Bibiana's regular bi-monthly exhibitions are open daily except Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 41 Panská ulica. Admission is 3 Sk. For more, contact Šajdíková at tel. 07/533-4986.

Big Ben to present book by visiting American historian

A new book, "The Cold War: 1948-1989," by the American historian John Mason, currently teaching at the Berlitz School in Bratislava, will be available late this month at Bratislava's Big Ben Bookstore. Although the 82-page work (published by Routledge), deals with the 40-year global stand-off mainly from the express viewpoint of the two super-powers, Mason told The Grapevine that the Cold War started roughly with the Czechoslovak Communist party's coup in 1948 (when Jan Masaryk, a key figure in the short-lived post-war Czechoslovak Republic, fell three storeys while shaving too close to the window at Prague's Palace of Culture) and ended with the Velvet Revolution. Mason added that the book is a concise history of the period written for the general reader. The price has not been listed, but will probably be 200-300 Sk. For more contact Big Ben Books on Michalská ulica at tel. 07/5333-632.

Slovak-Yugoslavs' ceramic paintings featured in exhibit

The Center for Slovaks Abroad (Dom Zahraničných Slovákov - DZS) will show ceramic paintings by two Yugoslavian artists of Slovak origin, Ján Husárik and his daughter Anka Husaríková, until January 9 at the on Štefánikova 25. The exhibition combines the distinctive style of the village regarded as the center of Slovakia's ceramics industry, Modra, with the motifs of water and thirst, which Husárik calls the central theme of his paintings.

DZS will also host a ceremony in Prievidza on November 22 to unveil a memorial tablet in honor of Stanislav Mečiar, a director of the Slovak cultural institute Mática Slovenská before World War II, and an outspoken critic-in-exile of Communist Czechoslovakia until his death 25 years ago in the USA. For more about both events, contact the director of the Center's information department, Viera Totkovičová, at tel. 07/395-184.

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