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February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
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The Baudouina Orphanage

On Thursday August 21 an unusual ceremony took place at the Baudouina Orphanage in Warsaw, Poland.  This orphanage saved more than 150 Jewish children during WW II.  At a time that the staff was barely able to keep non-Jewish children alive (lack of food, medicines, etc), they continued to take in Jewish children even while risking their own lives and the lives of the other children.  Miraculously, they were never caught by the Nazis.  This orphanage has been is existence for more than 200 years and is struggling with its present financial situation.

 

 


Rabbi Schudrich and Chagai Stern with the director of the orphanage, Maria Kolankiewicz, looking at the registry of children from 1942.

 


Two years ago, the Israeli Embassy presented the “Righteous Among the Nations” award of Yad Vashem to the former director of this orphanage and held the ceremony at the orphanage.  Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, also attended. ” Since that time, I have been looking for a small way to help this orphanage,” said Rabbi Schudrich.  A few months ago, Schudrich met Chagai Stern of “Israel to the Nation,” an Israeli NGO working to provide aid in 11 countries.  Stern jumped at the opportunity to do something for this orphanage and organized a truckload of toys and clothing to be sent. 

 

 


Chagai Stern with a box of toys.

 


This past Thursday, there was a small ceremony at the orphanage.  “Thank you for giving us a chance to do something very small for you,” said Rabbi Schudrich.  “We can never do enough to really say thank you but at least we can offer this small gesture.”  The orphanage staff was overwhelmed by the quality and quantity of this gift. 

 

 


Israeli Ambassador, David Peleg; Chagai Stern; Maria Kolankiewicz; and Rabbi Schudrich.

 


The small tricycles were immediately put to good use with small toddlers racing around in their new wheels.  There were so many items delivered that the Baudouina Orphanage will share some of the gifts with other orphanages. 

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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.

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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.

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