On October 23rd 2013, Shana Penn, the executive director of The Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture and a New Eastern Europe contributor, was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Polish Republic. The award is granted to foreigners who have rendered great service to Poland. The award was presented by Minister Jacek Michałowski, Head of the Chancellery of the President, on behalf of President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski.
Minister Michałowski cited Shana's outstanding contribution to the development of Polish-Jewish dialogue, support for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, advocacy on behalf of Poland's inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program, and scholarly work on the role of women in the Solidarity movement in Poland. He noted that President Komorowski's commemoration of women on the 23rd anniversary of the first democratic elections in Poland on June 4, 1989, was inspired by Shana's groundbreaking research.
The award was presented during the Irena Sendler Memorial Award Ceremony held at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and organized by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture. At the ceremony, foundation chairman Tad Taube honoured the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski and Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz for their leadership in building the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Irena Sendler Memorial Award is given annually to Polish citizens who have worked to preserve Jewish heritage and foster Jewish cultural renewal in Poland.