web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Difficult Questions In Polish-Jewish Dialogue

       Whenever I meet people, and they find out I write about Jewish life in Poland, invariably they have questions. They ask about the Jewish community that was, the Shoah, or the present situation. On the other hand, whenever I travel to Poland, I meet a certain curiosity from the local population. They ask why I don’t eat their food, can’t do certain things on Saturday, why I wear a yarmulke, and very often the topic of discussion leads to Israel and its politics. This a phenomenon that anyone going to Poland might experience either from friends before and after the trip, and from Poles throughout the country.

 

         There are many other questions that are asked on a regular basis. Then there are silent questions, not brought into the open, but thought about. People are apprehensive that, possibly, the answers might be embarrassing or very obvious. Many times the quiet questions are the hardest, and a person will get different responses depending on whom s/he asks.

 

         The Forum for Dialogue Among the Nations and the American Jewish Congress recently published a new book, entitled Difficult Questions in Polish Jewish Dialogue. The book is in question-and-answer format, with questions taken from surveys of young Poles and Jews who have visited Poland. Historians, rabbis, community leaders and people involved in Polish-Jewish relations, give the answers. Among the contributors are Wladyslaw Bartoszeski, founder of Zegota, Council for Aid to Jews, a Holocaus-era organization set up to save as many Jews as possible from the Germans, and Israel Guttman, born in Warsaw, who survived the Warsaw Ghetto and is now one of the heads of Yad Vashem.

 

         The questions from the Polish side of the coin start with, “Where did the Jews come from in Poland? How did they get there?” They also ask why the Jews did not fight the Germans in World War II. Issues regarding Israeli politics are very much on the minds of young Poles. Because much of the news media in Europe is slanted towards the Palestinians, they ask about treatment of the Arabs by Israel as human rights issues, and naively compare the situation to the Jews under the Germans.

 

         The book also asks about Jewish life in Poland today. “Is it safe to be Jewish in Poland? What about anti-Semitism? How can Jews live in a country where their ancestors were murdered?”

 

         The editors note that young American and Israeli Jews are taught history entirely differently from how the young Poles are taught. The chasm between the two narratives about the past is impossible to bridge without each side understanding the perspectives and concerns of the other.

 

         It is extremely difficult to give complete answers to all the questions, and this book should be looked at as a portal into the arena, a starting point for further exploration and dialogue, at least debate, between two peoples, whose pasts have so much in common.

 

         “Today, Poles and Jews living in Poland, under conditions of freedom and democracy, have the right to expect answers to many apparently straightforward questions about their history,” writes Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, former foreign minister of Poland, in the book’s preface.

 

         David A Harris, director of the American Jewish Congress, said, “It is our earnest hope that this unique volume will contribute to enhanced understanding and thereby strengthen the foundation of friendship and shared commitment between Poland and world Jewry for generations to come.” 

 

         Difficult Questions was made possible with the support of the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture; the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Memory, and Research; and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

         The book is available in English from AJC; in Polish from the Forum for Dialogue; and a Hebrew edition is expected later this year.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Difficult Questions In Polish-Jewish Dialogue”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.
State Dept Press Corps Shapes US Response to Netanyahu’s UN Speech
Latest Sections Stories
Mindy-092614-Choc-Roll

I should be pursuing plateaus of pure and holy, but I’m busy delving and developing palatable palates instead.

Schonfeld-logo1

Brown argues that this wholehearted living must extend into our parenting.

Twenties-092614-Abrams

If we truly honor the other participants in a conversation, we can support, empathize with, and even celebrate their feelings.

Twenties-092614-OU-Mission

I witnessed the true strength of Am Yisrael during those few days.

She writes intuitively, freely, and only afterwards understands the meaning of what she has written.

“I knew it was a great idea, a win-win situation for everyone,” said Burstein.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

“I would really love my mother-in-law …if she weren’t my mother-in-law.”

For each weekly reading, Rabbi Grysman begins with a synopsis of the Torah portion, followed by a focus on a major issue.

It’s Rosh Hashanah. A new year. Time for a fresh start. Time for a new slate. Time for change.

Governor Rick Scott visited North Miami Beach/Aventura on the morning of Wednesday, September 17.

While the cost per student is higher than mainstream schools, Metzuyan Academy ESE is a priceless educational opportunity for children with special needs in South Florida.

Challah-pa-looza helped get the community ready and excited about the upcoming Jewish New Year.

Miami businessman and philanthropist Eli Nash had many in tears as he shared his story of the horrific abuse he suffered from age 8 to 11.

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/difficult-questions-in-polish-jewish-dialogue/2007/04/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: