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(Warsaw, Poland) April 8, 2019:  The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ), a partnership of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, is pleased to announce the appointment of Piotr Puchta to the position of Director.

Mr. Puchta will spearhead FODZ’s efforts to recover, preserve, and commemorate physical sites of Jewish significance and cultural heritage throughout Poland and to educate Polish youth about the rich history of Jews in Poland. Mr. Puchta will also lead FODZ’s efforts in the handling of restitution claims pertaining to real estate owned by prewar Jewish religious communities, especially synagogues and cemeteries. FODZ was established in 2002.

Mr. Puchta comes to FODZ following more than 30 years of distinguished service at Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focusing on the Middle East.  For the last three years, Mr. Puchta served as Ambassador-at-Large at the Department of Africa and the Middle East for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw.  Previously, he served in Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, including as Ambassador of Poland to Egypt from 2009 to 2013.  From January 2014 to March 2016, Mr. Puchta was Chairperson of the Polish delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance, and promote Holocaust education, remembrance worldwide, and to uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.

“We are looking forward to Mr. Puchta bringing his expertise to further FODZ's essential mission of restoring and commemorating Poland’s vibrant prewar Jewish life,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO Chair of Operations and Co-Chair of the FODZ Board of Directors. “We warmly welcome him to the organization and will be working closely with him.”

“Mr. Puchta’s extensive experience and leadership skills will advance FODZ’s work in Poland in the many communities where there is a vital need to preserve Jewish cultural heritage,” noted Alicja Kobus, Co-Chair of the FODZ Board of Directors. “FODZ is grateful that he will be heading up the organization for his work with historical Jewish preservation but also importantly, for his commitment to educate Polish students about the rich history of Jews in Poland.”

“I am honored to join FODZ in leading an organization that has a well-established mission to preserve the dynamic Jewish heritage of Poland,” said Piotr Puchta, Director of FODZ.   “I believe preserving these meaningful memories will help connect both Jews and Poles and will have special significance for future generations.”

Approximately 3,300,000 Jewish people lived in Poland prior to the war. About 90 % of Polish Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.  It is estimated that about 10,000 currently live in the country.