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Posts by Switezianka  

Joined: 17 Jun 2008 / Female ♀
Last Post: 15 Jul 2009
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Posts: Total: 463 / In This Archive: 403

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11 Dec 2008
Genealogy / My grandpa was from Poland - Gresom Jopfa [44]

I'm doing everything wrong? Great....

I was hoping to hear from some more people about their ideas too. I'm thanking you for your help though. I don't understand what you mean -a Jewish name in a Catholic country? How can you have a Jewish name? Judaism is a religion. He was from Poland, not Israel. I didn't know that about Jewishgen though and I am looking at it.

I can see you've got no idea about Polish and Jewish history. Instead of freaking out, better 'listen to ' Wroclaw, Grzegorz and Krakowianka.

I'll add some facts you should know.
Before II WW, Polish was a multicultural country. There was a lot of Jews in Poland. By the end of 19th century, among the Jews, many new SECULAR cultural movements started. Some Jews - and mainly the members of intelligentsia, doctors, lawyers etc. - gave up their religion and became atheist. Also, Zionism (that movement that led to creating the state of Israel), was a secular movement, supported mainly by atheistic or non-Orthodox Jews. In 1930s there was quite a few of educated, atheistic Jews in Poland (I even know one old Jewish retired doctor, who was born into such kind of a family). Most of them lead lifestyle that was more similar to the one of Polish intelligentsia than to the one of Orthodox Jews. And they identified themselves both as Jews AND Poles. Many great Polish intellectuals and artists of that period were Jews (e.g. Julian Tuwim, Bolesław Leśmian, Artur Rubinstein, Bruno Schultz). So, an atheist Jew was nothing unusual in 1930s Poland. What's more, many of them went to America to make business (if you want to learn something more about the social realia of these times, I'd recommend you to read some I.B. Singer).

What's more: your grandfather has got typically Jewish big nose. He's got a Jewish first name. The surname, no matter if Jopfa or Joffa, sounds rather Jewish than Polish. The proper Polish spelling of Gersom is GERSZOM, so if you're looking for it in Polish records, try it.

Grzegorz is the only equivalent of Gregory. There are diminutive forms: Grześ, Grzesiek, Grzesio, but you will not find nicknames in documents.

To sum up: most probably your grandfather was either a member of Polish Jewish intelligentsia or a Polish Jewish businessman.
The Jewish transcription of that name might be: יאפא גרשם . I'm not certain about יאפא, but I'm sure about גרשם (Gershom).
10 Dec 2008
Genealogy / My grandpa was from Poland - Gresom Jopfa [44]

One thing is certain: Juva can't be a Polish surname.

Either it is not the original spelling of the name or the name is foreign. There is no 'v' in the Polish alphabet.
7 Dec 2008

What the young generations thinks about it?

Well, kissing hands is sweet, cute and everything, as long as the kisser is in close relationships with the kissed. So, if my boyfriend, husband or just a guy I'm flirting with does it, it's OK. But in case of a stranger or nearly stranger, it's just disgusting. It makes me feel like running to the bathroom and washing my hand immediately, so I'm very happy this custom is fading away. I don't want any contact with random people's bodily fluids...

Polonius, imagine you meet some guy and he kisses your hand. Would you feel comfortable with it?
2 Dec 2008
Life / What to wear for winter in Poland [51]

I don't think it gets that cold in Poland anymore, does it? C'mon!
What a silly question is that? "How will you dress when the temp drops to 15-20 below zero?"

Three years ago there were a few days in a row of such temperatures. At nights it was even colder.
One day, during that winter, I was going to classes and my tram broke down, so I had to walk outside for some 2 km in the temperature of exactly -18 degrees Celsius. If I hadn't been wearing an old sheepskin coat and a ridiculous Russian fur cap, that little walk would have been a nightmare... I think it's better to be prepared for such "attractions".

It's not the only winter like that I remember (in my short life). Such weather is rare but it's nothing abnormal in the Polish climate.
30 Nov 2008
Life / Rudeness of polish people when they are drunk [43]

I think we have all met Jekyll and Hyde personalities on drink from every country, people who get incredibly obnoxious on booze.

I've never met anyone who'd be obnoxious on the booze without having such tendencies sober.
Whenever I drink with people I like, they just become silly, cheerful and playful.
30 Nov 2008
Language / Anyone use "SERWUS"? [46]

I've never heard it used in real life.
30 Nov 2008
Life / Rudeness of polish people when they are drunk [43]

I don't believe that it has anything to do with alcohol. Nice people stay nice even if they're very drunk. Being drunk is not a justification for such behaviour.

I think you should change the environment.
30 Nov 2008
Life / Celebrating Christmas in Poland [52]

Make sure I eat everything (even force things down i don't like) and don't eat too much and appear greedy.

No, it's not about appearing greedy. It's just simply impossible to try everything if you take large portions.

For example for my last Christmas Eve, there were: soup, 2 kinds of fried fish, pierogi, fried mushroom, beans, 3 or 4 kinds of herrings, 2 or 3 kinds of sauerkraut with mushroom, carp in aspic, 2 kinds of cake, noodles with poppyseed and and more stuff that I can't remember. And think: you should try everything... It's possible to handle only in small portion and with some alcohol (preferably wine) to help you digest.

Don't write who the gift is from. Just write the name of the person it is for.

Yes, that's right! Quite important...
29 Nov 2008
Life / Celebrating Christmas in Poland [52]


Now is there anything that I would be expected to bring, say, etc.

It will be nice if you bring presents for the whole family. They should be just symbolic, so don't worry too much. Treat it as a sign that you remembered about all the family members (even the ones you're seeing for the first time). It's just appropriate to give a little something to every person present at a Christmas Eve, so I'd advise you to ask your friends who's invited.

Expensive presents are bought only to the closest ones (like spouses, parents, children), so you're not included in 'serious' present exchange. If there's a kid in the family - the present for the kid may be slightly more effective than for the rest.

Have them packed and tagged with you, and just put it under the Christmas Tree before the Eve starts.

And is there anything that I might do as a Scotsman, without thinking, that would cause great offence to his family...

Always be happy about the food (warning: carp is very... specific).
Dress formal (in most families a suit and a tie would be OK).

When the dishes are served, take only a little of each (watch how much the others take). According to the tradition, one should try all of the dishes and you can expect around 12, so be careful to have some 'room' for the ones that aren't on the table yet.

When all the dishes have been brought in, you can decide of which to take more (but remember about the desert!)

And don't worry, be relaxed. If you realize you've done something wrong, just apologize and smile.
29 Nov 2008
Life / What to wear for winter in Poland [51]

Wildrover, I actually wear a furry Russian ushanka in winter...

And how often does it get to -20 ?

It sometimes happens, so elfshmelf should be prepared...
29 Nov 2008
Life / What to wear for winter in Poland [51]

i got some boots, skinny jeans, gloves, scarf, hat...

Get a pair of tights to wear under the jeans.
Hats stand out - unless worn by elderly ladies. It's not what girls usually wear, and, btw, a hat is not good for frosty weather - getter get something that would cover your ears.

Gloves and a scarf are a must.
Make sure your boots don't soak easily - temperatures around 0 are very common in December, so there's a lot of mud and half-melted snow in pavements. It's a good idea to wear skinny jeans with boots because boots are easier to clean that jeans :-)
23 Nov 2008
News / Polish culture would collapse if Ministry of Culture would be abolished? [14]

If it can't survive without a ministry, it's not worth it.
Most of that stuff supported by the Ministry is boring.

In my city, for example, there's a lot of theatres, but only amateur or student theatres make some interesting shows. The ones supported by the ministry are... not very appealing.
23 Nov 2008
Language / Why Polish people use so many words to describe a situation? [122]

Some are, some aren't. I am, for example... Each time I write an essay, I have to cross out half of the text later.

I believe the founder of this thread came across those overly descriptive ones. And that's the whole problem.
23 Nov 2008
Language / Why Polish people use so many words to describe a situation? [122]

Magdalena, some English expression are hard to translate into Polish and some Polish expressions are hard to translate into English. Try to translate this Polish classic into English:

"- Może by zaorać co...
- A co?
- Ano czy ja wiem... Choćby i pole...
- Iiii...
- Albo co...
- Eeee..."
23 Nov 2008
Language / Why Polish people use so many words to describe a situation? [122]

As I said, giving long explanations by Polish people is not the matter of language. Coming back to the matter of explaining the way, you can say:

"Go straight down this road, turn left at the second crossing and after some 500 m you'll see that bank"


"You see this street here? So, it's called Piłsudskiego St.. Now, you have to go Piłsudkiego St. in that direction, you see? Ok, so you'll soon get to the crossing with Żeromskiego Rd. So, once you're at the crossing with Żeromskiego Rd., don't turn left or right, no. Just go straight ahead, right? So, after you have crossed Żeromskiego, you have to go straight (of course, you can't go any other way, so no point in mentioning it) and you will get to the crossing with Kochanowskiego Rd. Yes, it's the next street after Żeromskiego. So, while you're on this crossing, you have to turn left - remember left into Kochanowskiego Rd.. Then, you will see a Biedronka shop - so go past it. Then, there will be a post office - you have to go past , too. And finally you'll see a big, modern building, you know, with a lot of glass etc. And this building will have the logo of this bank. So, this will be that bank you're looking for."

I think this illustrates the problem of long explanations.
23 Nov 2008
News / Poland's Most Quoted [22]

Cudze chwalicie własnego nie znacie, sami nie wiecie, co posiadacie.

Aliena laudatis, vestra ignoratis - I don't know who said that, but I think it wasn't Mickiewicz or Jachowicz.

A few quotes in popular use:

Koniec i bomba, a kto czytał ten trąba!
(a nonsense rhyme saying it's the end and who read the book is a fool)
Słowacki wielkim poetą był.
(Słowacki is a great poet - sentence used to satirize claims that are supposed to be accepted without any arguments supporting them )

Also the author of many expressions in common use: "dorabiać komuś gębę", "upupiać" - quite complicated phenomena, so I don't feel like defining them today.

"Czucie i wiara silniej mówi do mnie niż mędrca szkiełko i oko" - Feeling and faith speak stronger to me than a wiseman's glass and eye.

"Glass and eye" - used commonly as a metaphor of scientific thinking

"Ciemno wszędzie
Głucho wszędzie
Co to będzie?
Co to będzie?"
"Dark everywhere, quiet everywhere, what's gonna happen?"

Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.
In Poland known as: Co mnie nie zabije, to mnie wzmocni.

Also many film quotes are in popular use:
"Kobieta mnie bije.." - A woman is beating me...
"Ciemność, widzę ciemność, ciemność widzę." - darkness, I see darkness, darkness I see
"Kopernik była kobietą!" - Copernicus was a woman.
"Hej! Nasi tu byli!" - Hey! Ours were here!
"Żeby facet nie mógł z gołą babą w windzie..." - [it's horrible] that a guy can't do it with a naked woman in a lift....

"W tak pięknych okolicznościach przyrody... " - In so beautiful circumstances of the nature
"I kto za to płaci? Pani płaci, Pan płaci.. Społeczeństwo." - And who pays for it? You pay, madam, you pay, sir. The society.

"Mnie się podobają melodie, które już raz słyszałem." - I like melodies that I've heard before.
"Te pytania są tendencyjne" These questions are tendentious.
19 Nov 2008
Food / Vegetarian food in Poland? [83]

I really recommend Green Way. It's cheap, tasty and nourishing. I can eat my fill there for around 10 zł though, in general, I eat quite a lot.
16 Nov 2008
Study / Study Drums (Jazz performance) - academies/universites in Poland [5]

I've heard a lot about jazz and popular music department in Katowice - I think it's the best in Poland. But you may have a problem entering a music academy without previous formal musical education.

This is the Academy website:

There is no English site for Jazz Institute, but anyway:
14 Nov 2008
Life / Religions in Poland. [64]

Flying Spaghetti Mosnter is not as smart as the Invisible Pink Unicorn: it hasn't got the divine ability to be invisible and pink at a time!
14 Nov 2008
Life / Religions in Poland. [64]

Parliamentary Union (IPU)?
14 Nov 2008
Life / Religions in Poland. [64]

Deism - there is a god that has created the universe
Atheism - there is no god
Agnosticism - maybe there is, maybe there isn't

Religions are composed of many more beliefs than that. E.g. in Christianity:
1) God is almighty
2) God is just
3) God cares about what people do
4) God created the moral law and gave it to people
5) God revealed himself to people (in the Bible)
6) Human beings have immortal souls
7) There is life after death
and a lot more.

Deism doesn't have it all, it's just a belief that there is some creature that made this world and left it alone. No other features are ascribed to that creature and there is no eschatology in it.
14 Nov 2008
Life / Religions in Poland. [64]

Since someone revived this thread, I'll make one thing clear:

Deism (as well as agnosticism and atheism):
1) is not institutionalized
2) is not a set of beliefs but one single belief
3) doesn't have any practices connected to it