Speaking Schedule

Upcoming talks of, “Chasing Portraits: A great-granddaughter’s search for her lost art legacy.”  A description of the talk is below the dates.


Upcoming Talks

9 September 2014 – Art Table – San Francisco.

14 September 2014: Temple Beth El – Eureka, California.  

8 January 2015: Jewish Community Library – San Francisco.

23 January 2015 (7-9pm): Sausalito Woman’s Club – Sausalito, California.

CHASING PORTRAITS – A Detective Story:  Sausalito native, Elizabeth Rynecki relates her fascinating, years-long quest to locate the art of her great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943), most of which was lost, looted, or destroyed during the German occupation of Warsaw during WW II.  Painted primarily during the inter-war years, Moshe Rynecki’s existing portraits depict the vibrant Jewish life and culture of the time.  No charge.  Light hors d’oeuvres and no host bar. Co-chairs: Leslie Hail and Paula Fancher

Previous Talks:

Davis, California – Congregation Bet Haverim in Davis

Boston, Massachusetts – Boston 3G

Sacramento, California – Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento

Toronto, Canada – University of Toronto’s Center for Jewish Studies

University of Nebraska, Omaha – Holocaust education class

Omaha, Nebraska – The Kaneko (a public non-profit cultural organization in the Old Market District)

Oregon Jewish Museum at Havurah Shalom

San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society


Talk Description
Moshe Rynecki (1881-1943) was an artist who painted scenes of the Polish Jewish community in the interwar years. He had a keen eye for exploring and documenting the daily rhythm and life of synagogue, teaching, labor, and leisure. His work is made rarer and more precious by documenting the nuances of both a way of life and a place that were irrevocably destroyed by the crushing impacts of World War II and the Holocaust.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Moshe became concerned about preserving his life’s work. In the early days of the war he made the decision to divide his oeuvre of approximately 800 works into a number of bundles, and to hide them in and around Warsaw. He gave a list of the locations where the works were hidden to his wife, son, and daughter, in hopes that after the war the family would retrieve the bundles and the collection would be whole once again. Moshe willingly went into the Warsaw Ghetto, desiring to “stay with his people,” and perished in Majdanek. His daughter was murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto. His wife, his son George, George’s wife Stella, and their young son Alex (the speaker’s father) hid in a number of locations outside the Ghetto and, despite a number of very close calls, ultimately survived the war.

After the war Moshe’s widow went to see if any of the bundles of paintings survived. She found just a single package in the cellar of a home in Warsaw’s Praga district, across the river Vistula. Of the find, Moshe’s son George wrote in his memoir, “The paintings seemed to have gone through the same fate as the Jewish people – massacred and destroyed. About 12–15 percent of Jews survived the Holocaust. So did my father’s paintings. One hundred and twenty were found out of a count of close to eight hundred works.”

For many years the Rynecki family believed that just this single bundle survived. Fortunately, that was not the case—many more pieces survived, and Moshe’s great-granddaughter Elizabeth has found a substantial number of previously “lost” works over the last several years. The artist’s great‐granddaughter will speak about her great-grandfather, her quest to find the missing pieces, and where the family’s story rests within the larger story of Holocaust art restitution.

Elizabeth is Moshe Rynecki’s great-granddaughter. She attended Bates College (’91) where she studied Rhetoric. She received a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Speech Communication at U.C. Davis (’94) where her graduate work focused on children of Holocaust survivors and the voice and role of the second generation within Holocaust discourse. Elizabeth is passionate about sharing her great-grandfather’s paintings with others and searching for the lost and missing pieces from the original collection. To this end she is working on the Chasing Portraits documentary film as well as a book about her family’s efforts to preserve her great-grandfather’s story and oeuvre of work. You can learn more about her great-grandfather online at http://rynecki.org/. The project can be followed on Twitter: @erynecki and on Facebook: Moshe Rynecki: Portrait of a Life in Art.