Bella Szwarcman-Czranota is awarded the Jan Karski and Pola Nireńska Prize 2018. Conferred annually, the prize is granted to authors of works devoted to Polish-Jewish relations and to documentation of Jewish contribution to Polish culture.
She has propagated Jewish culture in a very comprehensive manner, which has included the language: she authored numerous articles on Jewish literature, […] she is a recognised translator, has published several books, participates actively in scholarly conferences, contributed widely to popularisation of Jewish music; this is how professor Szymon Rudnicki, one of the jurors, summarised the manyfold merits of Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota. The jury included prof. Paweł Śpiewak (Jewish Historical Institute), Dr. Jonathan Brent (YIVO Institute for Jewish Research), Dr. hab. Joanna Nalewajko-Kulikov and Dr. Joachim S. Russek.
One of the main tasks of Jan Karski, a courier and emissary of the Polish Underground State, was to inform the international community about the tragic situation the Jewish population found itself in under German occupation. He shared his shocking eyewitness account with American and British politicians, journalists and artists. Among others, he met with the Foreign Secretary of the the Government of the United Kingdom and with the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pola Nireńska, born in Warsaw as Pola Nirensztejn, was the forerunner of modern dance in Poland and a dancer of world renown. She and Karski met in America in 1954. In order to be married in a Roman Catholic ceremony, Pola converted to Catholicism. Jan Karski funded the prize in 1992 and entrusted its administration to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota is a graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Warsaw and completed post-graduate studies at the same university’s Institute of Applied Linguistics. She spent many years working as an editor in the philosophy section of Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe (Polish Scientific Publishers) and at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Since 1997, she has been an editor and columnist for Midrasz magazine. She has translated numerous books and articles from French, Russian and Yiddish and is an author of number of Yiddish literature related articles and books, including: Mocą przepasały swe biodra: portrety kobiet żydowskich (They girded their loins with strength, 2006), Znalazłam wczorajszy dzień: moja osobista tradycja żydowska (I found my yesterday: my personal Jewish tradition, 2009), Cenniejsze niż perły: portrety kobiet żydowskich (More precious than pearls: portraits of Jewish women, 2010), Księga kobiet — kobiety Księgi: komentarze do Tory (The Book of women – The women of the Book. Torah Commentaries, 2014). She also co-authored with Róża Ziątek-Czarnota and Dorota Szwarcman W poszukiwaniu złotego jabłka (In search of the golden apple, 2016). Forthcoming in 2018 is the publication of Moja dzika koza (My wild goat), an anthology of Yiddish language women’s poetry, which she had prepared jointly with Joanna Lisek and Karolina Szymaniak. Among others, she was a holder of fellowships of the Municipality of Warsaw (2010) and of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York (2011). She was also awarded the Fr. Stanisław Musiał Award (2016).