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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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A Year In Poland

         For many, Polish Jewry is a misnomer; they (even those that come to visit) think that there is no longer any Jewish life, that it was all killed in the Holocaust. In the past year, I have been privileged to see just how much life there is in Poland.

 

         My first trip to Poland was in time to celebrate Sukkot with the community. A joyous time anywhere, but psychologically celebrating Simchat Torah, where the Nazis had once tried to wipe out all the Jews, has a special meaning.

 

 


The overflow crowd of nearly 1,000, listening to the chazzanut of Joseph Malovany at the Nozyk Synagogue.

 

 

         Then I returned for the opening of the Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin, a yeshiva that, during its six short years of operation, was at the forefront of Jewish religious education. Many dignitaries attended the event, both to remember the past, and hope for a better future.

 

         In June I was supposed to go to the opening concerts of the Krakow Jewish Festival, but got sidetracked and went to Warsaw for the weddings and Bar Mitzvah of members of the kehillah, proving that there is still Jewish growth in Warsaw. While in Warsaw I also attended the cornerstone ceremony for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I then made a side trip to Czestochowa for the opening of the local JCC and then made my way back to Krakow for the final days of the festival.

 

         On my latest trip I met with, Rabbi Ephraim Miezel, a recent arrival in Poland, who came to open a kollel as part of the Torah MeZion program of Jerusalem. He came, with his wife and two children, to deliver Torah classes. As always, one cannot come to Poland for just one event. I attended the rededication of the three Ohalim in Piotrkow, as well as the Day of Remembrance in Lodz.

 

 


Lodz community leader, Simchat Keller, directing the workers, as they pour cement for the new mikveh in Lodz.

 

 

         As the summer in Poland begins with the Jewish Festival in Krakow, the Isaac Bashevis Singer Festival in Warsaw marks its end. The opening night saw an overflow crowd come to the Nozyk Synagogue to listen to the great Chazan Joseph Malovany, and two of his students, sing along with the Jewish Choir of Moscow.

 

         All these activities that I have witnessed, as well as many others that I have not been around for, prove that the Jewish community, both religious and secular, is strong and vibrant. Rabbi Schudrich is looking forward to many more advances in the coming year including a reliable kosher restaurant that will open, IY”H, after Pesach.

 

         Another project, to which Rabbi Schudrich is looking forward, is the completion of the building of the Lodz mikveh. This past week saw the pouring of the first cement for the foundation of the mikveh. In the past, in order to use a mikveh, one had to travel to Warsaw, a two-and-a-half-hour train-ride each way. So building a mikveh in Lodz will enable many more people to participate in this major mitzvah.

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More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/a-year-in-poland/2007/09/11/

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