Since its opening in April 2008, Jonathan Ornstein has served as the executive director of the Jewish Community Centre of Krakow, an organization devoted to rebuilding Jewish life in Krakow. The JCC boasts more than 650 Jewish members, welcomes 10,000 visitors a month and has become one of Poland’s most visible signs of Jewish revival.
Prior to the JCC’s opening in 2008, Ornstein lectured in modern Hebrew at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University Department of Jewish Studies for six years and founded the “Gesher” association for Polish-Israeli dialogue. A native of New York City, Ornstein moved to Israel in 1994, living for seven years on a kibbutz in the Negev desert and serving for two years in a combat unit in the IDF. before making his way to Poland in 2001.
He is a founding member of “Przymierze,” the Krakow Association of Christians and Jews, where he serves as vice president. He also serves on the boards of the Krakow branch of the Child Survivors of the Holocaust organization and JCC Global.
In 2014, Ornstein was awarded the Cohon Award for services benefitting the Jewish People and in 2015 he was awarded the “Bene Merito” medal by the Polish Foreign Ministry for his work promoting Poland.