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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Auschwitz Provides Tourists with Outdoor Showers to ‘Cool Down’

Monday, August 31st, 2015

How sensitive does the world have to be Jews when it comes to anything that can be associated with Holocaust?

The question has come up twice in four days, once with Hillary Clinton’s “boxcar” comment’ and now with the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp site offering tourists, including Israelis, outdoor showers to cool down from a heat wave.

Clinton’s reference to alleged Republican candidates’ promoting the idea of shipping out Mexican immigrants in “buses and boxcars” touched a raw nerve among sensitive American Jews, especially those who vote Republican.

She maintained, as reported here, that she never had the Holocaust in mind, although her defense that Jeb Bush used the term was totally out of line since he used the word to emphasize that shipping out illegal immigrants in boxcars is exactly what the United States should not do.

The showers at Auschwitz is harder to defend but illustrates the difference in mindset between the slogan among Jews “Never Forget” and the concept among others “to get over it and move on.”

It is difficult to imagine that the management at the former death camp purposely set up outdoor showers, in the midst of a heat wave, to mock Jews.

However, no one apparently realized that tourists, and not only Jews, would associate the effort to offer people a relief from the heat with the gas chambers that killed more than a million Jews, many of whom thought they were going to have their first real shower in what seemed like eternity.

On a Facebook page that posted a picture of the sprinklers, several people expressed anger while many other simply shrugged off as a “funny” coincidence.

One of the most tasteless postings was that people should “not fall for the same trick again.”

One Israel tourist told Yediot Acharonot website, “When we got off the bus I saw the sprinklers. I was in shock. I felt my stomach turn over.”

He said that when he mentioned to one of the workers at the site that the sprinkler “reminds me of the gas chambers,” she replied she was sorry.

It is not clear what she was sorry about – that the shower system was insensitive or that the tourist couldn’t get over the past.

Most estimates are that fewer than 500,000 Holocaust survivors remain alive worldwide. Their numbers are dwindling quickly, and the question of sensitivity in this age of political correctness is one that will not go away.

It all depends who is being offended. There is an egregious concern not to offend Muslim and homosexuals.

Jews are another story. And when it comes to Israel, there is not much to talk about, except, of course, for the “occupation.”

What do you think?

Shavei Israel to Open First Jewish Kindergarten in Lodz

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Seven decades after the Nazis liquidated the Lodz Ghetto and sent its remaining Jews to Auschwitz, the Jerusalem-based nonprofit Shavei Israel organization will join in partnership with the Lodz Jewish community next month to open the first Jewish kindergarten in the Polish city since World War II.

“There is a growing Jewish community in Lodz, as well as many Poles with Jewish roots who are becoming more and more interested in reconnecting with their heritage,” said Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund.

“In looking for ways to strengthen Jewish life, we realized it is crucial to invest in the next generation of Jews and to provide them with a well-rounded Jewish education.”

The city was historically home to one of Poland’s most vibrant Jewish communities – and one of the largest ghettos during the Holocaust – but Jewish life all but disappeared from Lodz in 1944, Freund noted.

“Not only will this kindergarten provide an essential community service, but it will also serve as a symbol of Jewish revival in Lodz. The fact that Jewish children in Lodz will be singing Sabbath songs, learning about the Patriarchs and celebrating the festivals is perhaps the best possible revenge for what was done to our people there during the dark days of the Holocaust.”

The Gan Matanel kindergarten at 18 Pomorska Street will be run by Shavei Israel’s emissary to Lodz, David Szychowscy, and his wife, Miriam Szychowsca. Ten children have already been registered for the coming academic year, Freund said.

“It is so emotional for us to be a part of the renewal of Jewish life here in Lodz, especially considering all that the Jewish community went through during World War II – and the total lack of Jewish education for decades,” said Szychowsca, whose own children will attend Gan Matanel starting next month.

“We are truly proud that our own children will be among the first Jewish kindergarten class in Lodz in nearly 50 years.”

The last post-war Jewish school in Lodz – the I.L. Peretz school – was forced to close down in 1968 due to Communist repression.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Poland was home to more than three million Jews. Lodz, located in central Poland, held one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, second only to Warsaw. In January 1945, when the Lodz ghetto was liberated by the Soviets, only 877 Jews remained from the more than 245,000 who had been incarcerated there.

There are approximately 4,000 Jews officially registered as still living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Poles with Jewish roots who, to this day, are either hiding their identities or are unaware of their Jewish heritage.

US Entrepreneur Turns Kosher Vodka into Spiritual Experience [video]

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Marc Grossfield is a typical entrepreneur who managed a number of successful businesses and eventually sold his marketing promotions company to a public company.

Through family connections, he hooked up with Eddie Philips of Millennium Imports and soon he was learning about such upscale brands as Chopin and Belvedere. Eddie seized the opportunity about 35 years ago when Poland was undergoing its transition from Communism and managed to become the sole importer of the upscale Belvedere Vodka.

It was a time when Absolut virtually controlled the luxury market with an average bottle selling for $15. Eddie took the luxury Belvedere brand with its beautiful bottle to the next level, commanding double what Absolut was charging and he was an instant hit.

According to Marc, Eddie did not keep the success to himself, donating as much as $25 million to Jewish causes. He eventually sold Belvedere to Louis Vuitton LVMH “for hundreds of millions of dollars” and then sold Chopin.

Meanwhile Marc was not only transitioning to Vodka thanks to his mentor Eddie Phillips but also becoming increasingly spiritual. The Gold family in Israel turned out to be a perfect fit.

The family, originally expelled from Russia in 1824, moved to Safed (Tzfat) along with the entire community where they continued to make vodka in the finest Russian tradition. This art was passed on from father to son, today run by Yossi and his dad Joseph Gold.

Yossi’s journey took him to the Israeli Air Force, then to medical school, to Brazil where he became a plastic surgeon and then to Germany to perfect the art of making vodka.

Marc’s mission was to have the Gold’s produce vodka out of the seven species of the land of Israel (i.e. figs, dates, pomegranate, wheat, barley, olives, grapes) so that Jews who wish to make a blessing over the original seven species could do so, and even a non-practicing Jew or non-Jew could feel some spirituality in making a toast.

He even imported sand from Israel to put a handful into every fancy bottle of Aviv. The water is from the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee.

Vodka is made from 40% alcohol and 60% water. There is even symbolism in the triangular shape of the bottle, representing body, mind and spirit. “The bottom is bigger,” says Marc, “representing kindness. Aviv was launched on Thanksgiving 2013 and in its first year stacked up well against such brands as Grey Goose, Ciroc and Belvedere. It is selling well in such wine and spirit chains as Lund’s and Byerly in Marc’s hometown in Minneapolis.

It is also distributed by Royal Wine in many areas and is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU).

This article was written by Menachem Lubinsky for Kosher Today.

Netanyahu Charges UN with Copying Nazi Slander of Jews [video]

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday castigated the United Nations the second day in a row for its pre-determined accusations of war crimes against Israel and drew a comparison with the Nazi regime.

In remarks with visiting Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, Prime Minister Netanyahu  and told him at the start of their meeting:

I say…to the foreign minister of….Poland, on whose soil the defamation of the Jewish people happened when the Nazis controlled Europe, the attacks on the Jews were always preceded by the slander of the Jews. What was done to the Jewish people then is being done to the Jewish state now. We won’t accommodate that. In those days we could do nothing. Today we can speak our mind, hold our ground. We’re going to do both.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to yesterdays report on the conduct of the IDF in last year’s counter-terror war against Hamas rocket fire on Israel from Gaza and compared it to the U.N. report to be issued today.

He told the Polish Foreign Minister:

Our official government report…demonstrates unequivocally that our military actions during that conflict were in full accordance with international law, that Israel was exercising its legitimate right of self-defense….

Hamas terrorist(s) deliberately target our civilians while deliberately hiding behind their civilians. That’s a double war crime. And I think that it under-points the fact that there is a travesty here. Because even though we’re fighting, Hamas terrorists who are committing the double war crime of targeting our civilians while hiding behind their civilians, Israel operates in accordance with the highest standards of international law.

Netanyahu said that the U.N. Human Rights Committee “pronounced guilty before the investigation even began…and appointed a person to head this committee who was being paid by the Palestinian.”

The Prime Minister added, “This committee has more resolutions against Israel than against North Korea, Syria, and Iran combined.

“This tells you of what we’re dealing with. So this campaign, these attacks against Israel, these investigations against Israel have nothing to do with human rights. They have everything to do with politically inspired attacks in a cynical effort to de-legitimize Israel using UN bodies.”

Polish Members of Parliament Voice Public Support of Israel

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

(Warsaw) This past week, the Polish Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus was launched at the Polish parliament, known as the Sejm in Warsaw. An Israeli delegation from the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC) was in Warsaw on Monday, June 1 to launch the new caucus.

“As anti-Semitism continues to rise in Europe and around the world, I was moved to witness this historic initiative by members of the Polish parliament to publicly support the Jewish State,” said former member of Knesset, Shai Hermesh, who is the current chairman of the Israeli branch of the World Jewish Congress during the launch.

World Jewish Congress representatives and Knesset Christian Allies Caucus representatives met with senior Christian parliamentarians in the Sejm to work on building further support for the State of Israel through their shared Judeo-Christian values.

The Israeli delegation met with high-ranking Polish lawmakers including Jan Dziedziczak, one of the initiators of the newly established Polish Israel Allies Caucus. In addition, Polish parliamentarians from both the opposition and coalition parties joined Dziedziczak to further advance the relationship between Poland and Israel.

Welcoming the Israeli delegation was Polish MP Michał Szczerba, who also chairs the Polish-Israeli parliamentary group and is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Szczerba stressed the importance of the caucus initiative in strengthening Polish-Israeli relations.

The former Polish ambassador to Iran and former deputy director of Poland’s National Security Bureau, Witold Waszczykowski, was also present to express his enthusiastic support of the establishment of the caucus.

“This is an important day for faith-based diplomacy,” said Josh Reinstein, Director of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus. “Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must turn the bulk of our efforts toward mobilizing support for Israel. Israel is the only guarantor of the Jewish people’s survival,” he said.

Established in 2004, the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus consists of 17 members of the Israeli Knesset from six political parties. The caucus aims to open formal and direct lines of communication between Knesset member and Christian leaders, organizations and political representatives around the world.

Preserved Polish Synagogue to Become Jewish Museum

Monday, December 29th, 2014

The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland plans to open a new Jewish museum in a preserved baroque synagogue built in the 17th century in eastern Poland.

Great Synagogue in Leczna, in Lublin province, was mostly destroyed during and after World War II. In the 1950s and 1960s it was reconstructed, retaining the most important architectural elements of the former synagogue, including its wooden ceilings, the bimah and the Torah ark.

Since 1966, the synagogue has housed a regional museum, which has in its collection some valuable Judaica.

In 2013, the synagogue was transferred to Jewish community and was placed under the responsibility of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.

The Foundation has proposed re-opening the museum in the building with a focus on the Jewish community of the town and plans to open the revamped museum in 2016.

It could become part of the Chassidic Route – the project implemented by the Foundation which traces the Jewish communities of southeastern Poland. The project has been joined by 28 communities.

 

Polish Court Rules Ban on Shechitah Unconstitutional

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

A Polish court ruled that the de-facto ban imposed last year on slaughter without stunning of animals, which includes kosher and halal ritual slaughter, is unconstitutional.

A majority of five out of the nine justices who reviewed the ban at the Polish Constitutional Tribunal Wednesday ruled it ran contrary to the country’s constitution, the European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based lobby group that has fought to scrap the ban, said in a statement.

The court’s ruling was on a petition that argued the ban violated the European Convention on Human Rights and led to “discrimination in social and economic life of Jews in Poland,” polska.newsweek.pl reported.

The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland was among several entities that appealed the ban. The union filed its petition with the tribunal over a year ago to review the case.

Ritual slaughter was banned in Poland, effective as of Jan. 1, 2013, after the country’s constitutional court scrapped a government regulation that exempted Jews and Muslims from a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter. Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, as well as Muslim ritual slaughter, or halal, requires that animals be conscious before their necks are cut.

The tribunal asked for the opinion of the Sejm, or Parliament, and the Prosecutor General’s Office in making its decision.

According to the Sejm, ritual slaughter for the needs of the Jewish community in Poland is legal, and the person performing the slaughter cannot be punished. The Prosecutor General’s Office has a different opinion, which says that “the slaughter of animals, provided by religious rites, is not permitted.”

Before the ban, Poland had a $500 million industry of halal and kosher meat for export.

In July 2013 a draft bill aimed at legalizing ritual slaughter failed to pass in Polish parliament.

On March 5, 2014 KRIR, or the National Council of Agricultural Chambers in Poland, filed in Poland’s Sejm a bill on the Law on Slaughter which would legalize ritual slaughter. Parliament will take up this project after the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement the ruling meant that “Shechitah can continue in Poland as it has done for generations.” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, said the ruling Wednesday was a “relief” because it “prevents a dangerous precedent that would have affected all European Jewry.

“In the last few years, the European Jewish community has been under attack from a series of anti-Jewish laws, that, if passed, would seriously restrict the ability of many Jews who wish to lead a Jewish life,” added Rabbi Margolin.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/polish-court-rules-ban-on-shechitah-unconstitutional/2014/12/10/

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