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On April 26, 2002 Mrs. Jadwiga Palczynska, Director of Jan Kochanowski Grammar School No 1in Wielkie Oczy  announced the establishment of an annual essay contest entitled The People of Wielkie Oczy between the World Wars.

The contest aims to heighten awareness of this small but remarkable "little homeland", to make its history more widely known, and to describe the human landscape by focusing on the relations among people of different nationalities, cultures and religions whose paths crossed in Wielkie Oczy.

The idea for such a contest was first suggested by Rabbi Murray Stadtmauer of Bayside, New York. We are indebted to Mrs. Palczynska and her staff for bringing this contest to fruition.

The contest is open to all the students of the Middle School. To enter students must present a written work of at least three A4 size pages. Students are encouraged to discover history as it lives in the memories of those remain to tell of how Poles, Jews and Ukrainians coexisted in Wielkie Oczy. Students are also asked to submit photographs and other artifacts.

The contest is open until May 20, 2002, when completed essays must be submitted to Mrs. Elzbieta Niejadlo, the history teacher at the Middle School. The announcement of the winning essays and the granting of awards will be held on June 10, 2002 (the 60th anniversary of the expulsion of Jews from Wielkie Oczy).

The Committee that will select the winning essays is composed of:

  • Director of the school (Mrs. Jadwiga Palczynska) - Chairperson
  • Teacher of History (Mrs. Elzbieta Niejadlo) - member
  • Teacher of Polish Language (Mrs. Marta Majcher) - member
  • Jewish-culture conservator (Mr. Bogdan Lisze) - member

The prizes for the contest are being underwritten by Rabbi Murray Stadtmauer and are as follows:

  • 1st price - 300 Polish zloty (US$ 75)
  • 2nd prize - 200 Polish. zloty (US$ 50)
  • 3rd prize - 100 Polish zloty (US$ 25)

Each winner will also receive a letter in Polish commemorating the Jews of Wielkie Oczy, an English translation of which appears below:

Dear Students of Middle School No. 1, Wielkie Oczy:

We wish to thank all of you for your great kindness in helping to restore the abandoned Jewish cemetery of Wielkie Oczy. We know we can trust you to continue to take care of our cemetery and honor our ancestors who are buried there.

We also wish to thank all those who participated in the essay contest on "The People of Wielkie Oczy Between the World Wars."

We thank you for remembering our ancestors who once lived in your town, and researching their contributions to the life of Wielkie Oczy. We hope all of you found this to be a learning experience.

We congratulate those who won prizes for the best essays, but whether you won a prize or not, we appreciate the efforts of all.

Finally, we thank the mayor and the priests, but first of all the school director, the teachers and all the adults of Wielkie Oczy who inspired you in the performance of acts of humanism and charity

We are the children and grandchildren of Wielkie Oczy citizens of the past. A few of us have already visited you. Others hope to visit in the future. But whether we meet or not, we are surely bonded together by ties of history and memory.

God bless all of you and your elders.


Rabbi Murray Stadtmauer (New York City)
David Majus (State of Israel)
Stephen Landau (New York City)

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