Ruzena Bunza died (2016-2020)

Ruzena Bunza, a long-time member of the Czechoslovak Society of Art and Sciences, passed away peacefully in her home on June 23, 2020, just one month shy of her 104th birthday.

Ruzena Bunza, Photo  Jiri Dolezel, 2018

Photo by Jiri Dolezel

Ruzena Bunza was born in Rousinov, Czech Republic, near Brno. She was the youngest of four children of Ludmila and Alois Kadlcik, the region’s Postmaster. She graduated from the Commerce Academy and then worked as a legal secretary in a law firm where she met her future husband, Dr. Bohumir Bunza. They married in 1940 and started their life together in Bojkovice, where her husband had a position as a District Judge. In 1946, Dr. Bunza was elected to the Czech Parliament. He was in charge of an investigation of crimes committed by members of the Communist party against German citizens during their relocation from Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII. His involvement in this investigation made him a target of the Communist party and necessitated his escaping Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover in 1948.

Ruzena was unable to leave with him and she stayed behind in Bojkovice with her two young children, Peter and Helen. They lived there until 1956, when the family relocated to Brno in the hope of escaping constant surveillance and persecution. They stayed in Brno until their own escape to Italy in 1967. Ruzena—together with her daughter, Helen, and her fiancé, Mojmir—were successful in escaping the country. Her son, Peter, was caught at the border, he was imprisoned for 7 months until the Prague Spring, when he was released and was able to leave the country as well.

Ruzena reunited with her husband in Italy, and they lived in Rome for the next 10 years while he worked in the Center of the World Christian Studies. They organized various Czech church activities and helped to establish the Czech Pilgrimage House in Dolomites. They were also very involved in helping many Czech and Slovak refugees in Italian refugee camps.

In 1977, Ruzena and Bohumir retired and moved to New York City to be closer to their children and their families. They immediately became very involved in the Czech community and especially in the New York chapter of the SVU, where Ruzena was membership secretary and Dr. Bunza was Treasurer. Together they organized the Society’s cultural programs and Ruzena was a distributor of the Zpravy SVU magazine and other publications. For her outstanding service, she received the Achievement Award in 2010. Ruzena was a member of the Czech choir, Velehrad, for many years. She was also an avid traveler and enjoyed baking and gardening.

In 2018 in a video interview for Czech television, she described her recollections of meeting the first Czech president, T.G. Masaryk, in her hometown of Rousinov when she was a schoolgirl. That same year, Jiri Dolezel, photographer and founder of the Memory Traces project, interviewed her for his research on Czech waves of emigration to the United States. Her story became a part of his 2019 exhibition “Memory Traces—Exile/Emigration to the USA” on view at the Narodni Budova in New York City.

Ruzena was predeceased by her husband, Bohumir, in 1990, and her son, Peter, in 2018. She is survived by her daughter, Helen; her daughter-in-law, Greta; and her three grandchildren, Katrin, Carole and Mark, as well as her three great-grandchildren, Julia, Erik and Martine. A memorial service will be announced in the coming months.

In the meantime …

Dear all,

We hope that you are healthy and safe in these trying times. We miss you!

Until we can meet again at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan, we invite you to visit our new YOUTUBE channel and view six events that you might have missed. The videos are divided into shorter segments for easier viewing.

They include Escaping from Czechoslovakia (2016), stories of New Yorkers who escaped from communist Czechoslovakia, and Posezeni: Remembering New York’s “Little Bohemia (2018), an entertaining evening of memories of four old-timers who live(d) in the neighborhood of the Bohemian National Hall. Brilliant young Czech and Slovaks are featured in one edition of our popular 6-Minute Challenge series (Nov 2018). Enjoy the performances by Czech and Slovak Newyorkers -musicians and singers- in The Tribute to the Art of the Folksong (2018), and the concert 5+1:Jana Jarkovska (2019) by the gifted Czech flutist Jana Jarkovska presenting work of five young Czech women composers. Learn about the experiences of three Americans living in 1990s Prague (2019).


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Sad news

It is with great sadness that we learned that our former longtime president Professor Milan Fryscak, Ph.D., and Professor at NYU has passed due to Covid 19 complications. Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife Eva and their two sons. We will miss his smile and great sense of humor.

Read more in SVU’s REMEMBERING.

The 6-Minute Challenge, XII- CANCELLED!

March 24, 2020 at 7pm
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd floor

We regret to announce that due to Covid -19, all March events at the Bohemian National Hall have been cancelled.

We hope to reschedule the 6-Minute Challenge in May 2020. Hopefully by then, the virus will weaken and cease to exist.

In the meantime, you can visit our Youtube channel to catch up on the events that you couldn’t attend. Please subscribe!


Come meet Czech and Slovak artists, professionals, students, and scholars who will be challenged to introduce the subject of their project, research, or studies in a short presentation limited to six minutes and in the language appropriate for a non-expert audience. In English.

Moderated by Christopher Harwood, PhD, Columbia University

Presenters: Roman Balaz, PhD (Fulbright researcher at Boston University – social work), Jaroslav Bendl, PhD (Icahn School of Medicine – data scientist), Jan Bierhanzl, PhD (Fulbright Scholar at Penn State University – philosophy), Kristyna Kustkova (student at Mannes School of Music – soprano), Vlado Lackovic (Natives Group – digital marketing), Simona Lysakova (BA student at Hunter College – psychology), Marek Soltis (A/V engineer and musician) and Rene Georg Vasicek (English literature lecturer and author of “The Defectors”)

Free. Open to the Public.
Suggested donation $5

Light refreshment and networking will follow the presentations.

Organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU/NY), New York chapter, with support of the Consulates General of both the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic in New York.

A Slow Revolution: Early Steps Towards Jewish Emancipation in Bohemia, 1780s-1860s

February 20, 2020 at 7pm
Bohemian National Hall
321 E 73 St, 3rd floor
New York City

A lecture by Jindrich Toman, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The talk will guide the audience through select points that mark legal and cultural emancipation of Bohemian Jewry in the decades between the so-called Josephinian Decrees of the 1780s and the Monarchy’s liberal constitution of 1867. We will trace the culture of the disappearing ghettoes, attempts at a Czech-Jewish dialogue in the 1840s, the revolutionary year 1848, and conclude with the liberal 1860s.

Jindrich Tomanis a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has been following an academic path defined by languages and cultures of Central Europe, initially focusing on linguistics and gradually shifting his research interests towards cultural history and visual culture. A concurrent line of interest focuses on Jewish culture in Bohemia. He teaches courses in the area of literary and cultural studies, including “Jewish Prague.”

Free to the public. Suggested donation: $5.00
Limited seating.


Organized by the Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews in New York,
and the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, New York Chapter.
In cooperation with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York
and with the support of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association
and the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


6-Minute Challenge, Vol 11

Wed, December 4, 2019 at 7pm
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd fl.
321 E 73 St, NYC

Czech and Slovak artists, professionals, students and scholars are challenged to introduce the subject of their project, research or studies in a short presentation limited to six minutes. In English.

Moderated by Christopher Harwood, PhD, Columbia University
Presenters: Kanala Bolvanská ( UN Relief Program assistant/ meditation instructor), Eva Derman, PhD (Jewish history, SHCSJ), Nicole Hubka (student at Marymount Manhattan College —Int’l relations), Kaneenika Janaková (ultra-distance runner), Tomáš Kellner (Chief Storyteller at GE), Magdalena Kubecková, PhD (researcher/translator/author), Nikita Štepanenko (student at Manhattan School of Music—piano), Lenka Wooten (author of young-adults novels) and Klára Ziková English (mezzo soprano).


Free. Suggested donation $5.00
Organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Slovak Republic in New York.


5+1 JANA JARKOVSKÁ A flute recital

Monday, SEPTEMBER 23 at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd floor
321 E 73 St, NYC

A leading young Czech flutist Jana Jarkovská presented compositions for solo flute and flute & electronics by five contemporary Czech women composers, Sylvie Bodorová, Eliška Cílková, Ivana Loudová, Terezie Švarcová, and Sonya Vetchá. Appreciating the flute’s wide range of melodic and dramatic expression, each composer uses the flute to speak in her own independent and distinctive voice.

Introduction by one of the composers Eliška Cílková.

Jana Jarkovská will also perform at the Boston Flute Festival in October 2019.

YouTube Video

5+1 Flute recital

Jana Jarkovská, a leading Czech flutist of the younger generation, studied for six years at the Prague Conservatory. In 2013, she graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU) in Prague and in 2015, she received her soloist diploma from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. She spent one semester at the Conservatorio di Musica “Giuseppe Verdi” in Milan (Italy), as an assistant professor in the Erasmus Placement Program. In 2018, she earned her PhD in Interpretation Theory from the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU) in Prague, and released her CD of contemporary Czech music “Pidluke-padluke”. She currently teaches at the Conservatory in Teplice, North Bohemia, performing mostly as a member of the award-winning Duo du Rêve (flute & piano). As a soloist and chamber music player, she collaborates with a number of contemporary composers premiering their works and regularly records for the Czech Radio. Jana is working on a new CD release in 2020 as part of her contemporary project with Czech female composers. Next month, she will perform at the Boston Flute Festival.

Eliška Cílková, composer, began playing the piano at the age of four. She later studied composition and conducting at the Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory in Prague. She received her master’s degree in composition from the Academy of Performing Arts. In 2014-2015, she was a Fulbright research scholar in musical composition at Columbia University. Her electroacoustic project “Pripyat Piano – Sound Documentary of the Chernobyl Zone” was enthusiastically received in Europe. Eliška collaborates with diverse European artists and has composed music for documentary films and theatrical performances. Her work has been performed at numerous festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad. In 2015, she received the AHUV prize for “Best Czech Composer of Contemporary Music”, and in 2016, the international Musica Nova prize for the “Best Electroacoustic Composition.” She is currently pursuing her PhD in Musicology at Charles University in Prague.

Literary Inspirations in the Puppet Films of Jirí Trnka

An illustrated talk by Irena Kovarova

Thu, October 3, 2019, at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall, cinema

The world-renowned Czech filmmaker and book illustrator Jirí Trnka (1912-1969), the master of stop motion animation, brought to the screen works by from Kosmas, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Hašek and others. From tragedy to comedy, Trnka made adults appreciate puppets like nobody else.

The talk will be complemented by excerpts from Trnka’s films.

Irena Kovarova is an independent film programmer and producer of film retrospectives such as Juraj Herz: In and Out of the Czechoslovak New Wave (2019), The Puppet Master: The Complete Jirí Trnka (2018), and In Case of Emergency: The Films of Ruben Östlund (2015).

Having worked independently in New York in the field of repertory cinema since 2004, Irena founded Comeback Company in 2013 to further expand her film projects. In the past, Irena served as Director of Programming of the Young Visual Artists Awards of the Foundation of a Civil Society (2004-2009), and as Acting Director at Czech Center New York (1999-2004). A native of Prague, Irena has lived in New York since 1996.


Suggested Donation $5.00

The event is organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter.

The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia in1968: The Russian Perspective

Film and Book Launch
October 7, 2019 at 8pm
Bohemian National Hall, cinema

The documentary film (2011, 56 min.) and book offer never-seen archival images and interviews with Soviet soldiers, journalists and dissidents about the August ’68 events in Czechoslovakia. The director Josef Pazderka collected these during his post in 2006-2010 as a Czech TV reporter in Moscow. Mr. Pazderka is also the editor of the book which was recently published in English translation by Rowman Littlefield Publishers in Harvard Cold Ward Series. Q&A with Mr.Pazderka and Professor Milan Babik, PhD (Colby University) will follow the screening.

Limited seating.



Organized by the Czech Center and the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter, in cooperation with the Czech Consulate General in NY


“One of the leading Czech journalists, Josef Pazderka is an authority on Russia who has now produced a meticulous, evenhanded look at the Soviet participants and observers of the USSR’s 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. From army privates to generals, dissidents to top officials, their previously under-reported experiences and perceptions provide a valuable understanding of a wrenching event for Pazderka’s country and a major episode in Cold War history that remains highly relevant to the geopolitical confrontation in Europe today.” — GREGORY FEIFER, Harvard University

“The Prague Spring of 1968 and its violent suppression by the Warsaw Pact tanks was initially viewed as just a family squabble within the Soviet bloc. It seemed to be of little concern to others. But Josef Pazderka and his co-authors have brilliantly exploded this myth. They show that the invasion was a breaking point in the history of the Cold War. The specter of Soviet tanks unleashed by the Kremlin to crush a mild reform effort demonstrated to millions of Russians that communism was unimprovable and that it would have to be rejected for people to regain their right to pursue happiness.” — IGOR LUKES, Boston University

The Investigator: Demons of the Balkan War by Vladimír Dzuro

A Talk and Book Launch

Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at 6:30 pm
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd fl.

Moderated by Christopher Harwood

Special guests
Ivana Hrdlicková, President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Larry D. Johnson, Former UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs

Readings Maxwell Zener

Music Samuel R. Saffery

A riveting true story of finding justice for the people of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Vladimír Dzuro worked as a criminal investigator at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Prague and later at the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Interpol in Prague. In 1994, Vladimír joined the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in the former Yugoslavia and in April 1995, he began a ten-year stint as an investigator with the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Currently, Vladimír works as Chief of the New York Headquarters Office at the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. He earned his M.A. in Investigation Management from Charles Sturt University in Australia. The Registrar of the ICTY awarded him with the International Justice Medal. Vladimir is the author of The Investigator: Demons of the Balkan War and Justice, published in Prague by Grada Publishing in 2017. The book became a bestseller and is currently in its second reprint. The English version of The Investigator will be published in October 2019 in the United States.
SNAP Judgment Podcast

Limited seating.

Suggested donation: $5.00
A light refreshment will follow the program.

This event is organized by the Consulate General of the Czech Republic New York and the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN in New York

Citizen Sis: From Maršov to Leopoldov via Bulgaria 🗓

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 7 pm
Bohemian National Hall, cinema
321 E 73 St, New York City

Screening of a 2019 documentary film about a Czech journalist and a hero of Bulgaria, Vladimír Sís (1889-1958)


Vladimír Sís was a Czech patriot, journalist, and writer. At age 23, he sent his reports from the frontline of the Balkan War (1912-1913) as a correspondent for the Národní Listy newspaper in Prague. He became an important voice for the Czech national independence movement and the Bulgarian cause.Persecuted by the Austro-Hungarian regime, arrested by the Nazis, he was killed in the Leopoldov prison during the 1950’s communist purges in Czechoslovakia. In 1998, he was posthumously awarded the Order of T. G. Masaryk by president Václav Havel.

The film explores the European and the Czech history of the first half of the 20th century: The Balkan Wars from 1912-13, the T.G.Masaryk’s “MAFFIE” organization (1914), the World Wars, First and Second Czech Resistance – as Vladimír Sís participated directly and actively in all those events. The film was shot in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Balkans and features Bulgarian and Czech researchers and close relatives of Vladimír Sís.

Gospodin Nedelchev, PhD, is an award-winning Bulgarian film director, artist, animator, and screenwriter of more than forty animated and documentary films. As an Associate Professor, he teaches Animation Directing at the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, and is a member of the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers and the Union of Bulgarian Journalists.

A light reception and continued discussion followed the screening and Q&A with Mr. Gospodin Nedelchev. Stand by for video on our SVU NY You Tube Channel.


Organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter, and the Bulgarian History Club in New York.

A WITNESS TO HISTORY: An Evening with Zuzana Justman

Mon, November 25, 2019 at 7:00 pm
at Bohemian National Hal,cinema
321 E 73 St, New York City

The Czech-American Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and writer discussed her life and three of her major films Voices of the Children (1996), A Trial in Prague (2000), and Czech Women: Now We Are Free (1993)

Moderated by Helena Fisera and Christopher Harwood
PHOTOS on our Face Book Page
The event was organized by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU), New York Chapter in cooperation with the Society for History of Czech and Slovak Jews (SHCSJ).


Remembering August 68 – Before and After

Tuesday, August 13 at 7pm
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd fl.

Annual commemoration of the fateful events in August 21, 1968 in Czechoslovakia. Films and Discussion.

Czechoslovakia: Portrait of a Tragedy

Directed by David Tucker (1968, 47min.)
A documentary film shot over six weeks before the Soviet-led invasion. It includes interviews with protagonists of the Prague Spring and people on the street, reflecting an overall sense of possibility and optimism rather than worries about suppression that followed a few months later. The film was recently restored by The Wende Museum, thanks to the late Rudolf Perina, a consultant and interpreter during the filming who later became a US diplomat specialized in European East-West relations.

Spýtaj sa vašich 68 (Ask at Home 68)
Directed by Barbora Bereznáková (2018, 28min.)
This documentary film is a result of an interactive project presenting memories of the events of August 21, 1968, that ordinary people across Slovakia, and Slovaks abroad, shared on a website. The film was broadcast on Slovak TV on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the invasion and projected simultaneously in public spaces in Bratislava, Banská Štiavnica, Košice, Zvolen, and Spišská Nová Ves.

or email:

Suggested donation $5.00
Light refreshment

Organized in cooperation with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, Consulate General of the Slovak Republic and The Wende Museum.


Film and Discussion: TIBOR SPITZ

Wednesday, JUNE 19, 2019 at 7pm
Bohemian National Hall, 3rd fl.
321 E 73 St, New York

Tibor Spitz
Life + Art + Science
A screening of a documentary film Tibor Spitz (2015, 42 min, in Slovak with English subtitles) presenting a unique Slovak American artist and scientist.

Born in Dolný Kubín in 1929, he survived the Holocaust as a teenager. Later, he earned his PhD in chemistry. After escaping from communist Czechoslovakia in 1968, he worked as a scientist and engineer in glass, ceramic and hi-tech industry. He is an inventor, author of many patents and publications, motivational lecturer, and internationally published artist.
Mr. Spitz will be present for Q&A.

Suggested donation $5.00
Light refreshments

In cooperation with the Slovak Consulate General in New York.

1990s Prague Through American Eyes

Tuesday, MAY 21 at 7 pm

Bohemian National Hall
3rd fl
321 E 73 St, NYC

Curated and moderated by Vera Dvorak.

PHOTOS on SVU NY Facebook

André Fenton is a professor of neuroscience at New York University. He heads the Neurobiology of Cognition Laboratory, which studies how the brain stores experience as memories. Among other, the lab investigates the mechanisms of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia, intellectual disability, and autism. It uses various tools, including genetics and molecular biology, recording of the brain’s electrical activities, neural imaging, quantitative behavioral studies of animals, and computer models. André first came to Prague from Canada, in early 1991 to work in the Institute of Physiology and to teach English at the Czech Technical University. He was inspired to become a scientist and after one and a half years, he left Prague for graduate school in New York. In 1997, he returned, this time as a visiting scholar to direct the Laboratory of Neurophysiology of Memory at the Czech Academy of Sciences. He lived in Prague intermittently until 2005. During his stay, he co-founded a neurodiagnostic company, BioSignal Group, of which he is still the President. He is now starting new collaborations with Prague scientists.

Maura Griffin is the founder and CEO of Blue Spark Financial, an investment advisory firm focused on helping women in life transitions such as divorce, widowhood, or retirement. She graduated with a B.A. in literature from Georgetown University and earned her M.B.A. at Columbia University. She splits her time between Manhattan and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Maura started her career as a journalist, which led her to Prague. She worked at the Prague Post as a reporter in 1992 after working at the Associated Press in the US. In 1993, along with four friends, Maura started The Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse – which is still running now. She was married and had her son Calvin in Prague. Maura and Calvin moved back to the States in 1996.

Rob Lewis is a veteran speechwriter and strategic communications advisor. He currently writes for the Chairman and CEO of IBM. As Assistant Commissioner at the NYPD from 2002-2014, he served as chief speechwriter to two New York City Police Commissioners. He was also Special Advisor and chief speechwriter to the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service in Washington, D.C. from 1999-2002. Prior to these roles, he was External Relations Manager at Fiat U.S.A. and Special Assistant to U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 1993, while pursuing his master’s degree at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Rob completed a summer internship at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. He was assigned to the Economics Section, where he researched and wrote diplomatic cables on various economic issues related to the Czech Republic’s post-communist transition, including the so-called voucher privatization. This experience served as the basis for a thesis paper he subsequently wrote on challenges to the privatization of large Czech industries.
Thank you, Eva Giannone, for her amazing pastries!