Jordis Antonia Schlösser
The Unexpected Generation - New Jewish Life in Eastern Europe
2016 – 2018
A young woman amid the weathered tombstones in a cemetery in Łódź. A wedding in Kraków. A Hassidic school in Kyiv. A summer camp for teens in Sanok, in southeast Poland, formerly a lively shtetl. Jordis Antonia Schlösser went on the search for Jewish life in Poland today — and found much more than just the traces of the old culture destroyed by the Holocaust. Poland and Ukraine, once the heartlands of European Judaism, are experiencing a cautious, tentative Renaissance in Jewish life, a life that barely existed in Poland for decades. The few survivors of the Holocaust who did not leave the country during the communist era often kept their Jewish identity a secret, out of fear. Only now are increasing numbers of young people discovering that they have Jewish roots.
It is the “unexpected” generation, as they are known in Poland. They do research and make inquiries, rediscover old rituals; they find each other, even though it is sometimes difficult. They are experiencing the euphoria of a new beginning, a new sense of community once thought to have been forgotten. But they are also experiencing a growing sense of nationalism and antisemitism, especially in Poland. Schlösser’s photographs welcome the viewer as a guest in a mostly unfamiliar world, one that everyone thought had been lost.