Finalist for 2022 POLIN Award: Izabela Sekulska

Izabela Sekulska w jesiennym lesie
Izabela Sekulska. Fot. M. Jaźwiecki / Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

Izabela Sekulska is engaged in restoring the memory of the Jewish inhabitants of Mielec, a town with a pre-World War II population of 11,000, more than half of whom were Jews. Izabela became active in this area in 2019. She operates mainly in her hometown of Mielec, but also in Tarnów where she resides, and occasionally in other towns in southern Poland.

She founded a Facebook group called "Mayn shtetele Mielec". She runs a blog of the same name where she has published several dozen texts about the Jewish history of the town and its inhabitants.  In her own words: "The blog is a memorial to the Jews of Mielec constructed with words." She is a member of the Committee for the Protection of Jewish Heritage in Tarnów and a leader of the nationwide network of Dialogue Leaders at the Forum for Dialogue.

Together with the community formed around the Mayn shtetele Mielec group, Izabela engages in tidying up cemeteries and memorial sites, organises ceremonies to commemorate anniversaries of, e.g., the destruction of the Mielec synagogue or the deportation of the Jews from Mielec, and acquaints the local population with Jewish history, religion and culture. She carries out archival research related to the Mielec Jewry. The fruit of her research is a description of the fate of the people buried in one of the cemeteries in Mielec.

In 2021, Izabela began to compile the List of Holocaust Victims from Mielec. Her activities have brought her into contact with the descendants of Mielec Jews who are now involved in the creation of a space of remembrance, namely the Mayn shtetele Mielec group.