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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

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.

Rivlin: Poland ‘Breeding Ground for Soul of Jewish Nation, Grounds to Largest Jewish Cemetery’

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

At an emotional ceremony in Warsaw, Poland today (Tuesday, Oct. 28), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin inaugurated the Museum of the History of Polish Jews together with his counterpart, Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski.

It was at Komorowski’s invitation that Rivlin participated in the opening of the museum, which spans the history of the Jews of Poland throughout one thousand years of the community’s life in the country.

The president also laid a wreath in memory of the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on the street at the entrance to the museum.

“I do not stand here today as an individual, but rather as the representative of an entire nation,” Rivlin said in his speech, “a nation whose collective journey delves deep into the foundations of Jewish and human existence and into the depths of evil.

“As a Jew, even if you were not born in Poland, the very name, Poland, gives rise to a shuddering in your body and a longing in your heart. This country was breeding ground for the soul of the Jewish nation, and unfortunately, also grounds to the largest Jewish cemetery.

“Here the Jewish town, the shtetl, was born and here it died, converged unto itself in ghettos until it was ultimately murdered by the Nazis.

“Jews fought here as soldiers carrying weapons in the King’s army, decorated heroes of the Polish Army; and here too they marched to their deaths wearing yellow Stars of David, raising the banner of revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto… We can never think of Poland with equanimity. “Even if the Jews were disconnected from Poland it is difficult to impossible to disconnect Poland from the Jews. A history so rich, so full and so painful cannot be erased.

“Jewish history did not begin in Warsaw, and doesn’t end at Auschwitz. Auschwitz is its horrible pit, a horror of humanity, but the Jewish journey does not start there, just as it does not end there.

“The Jewish journey begins in the Land of Israel and it is there that we always strive to return to, against all odds and restrictions.

“There are those who mistakenly think that the State of Israel is compensation for the Holocaust. There is no greater mistake. The State of Israel is not a compensation for the Holocaust. The State of Israel was established in its own right.

“We forever remain aware of the danger,” he added. We build our future with eyes wide open and alert. We do not belittle threats. The Holocaust continues to serve as a warning sign against non-banal evil. Nevertheless, the horrors of the past and the threats of the present will not dictate our lives nor shape the lives of our children, and won’t dim the hope for a creative and prosperous future.

In my country, we have a bright red floor called ‘blood of the Maccabees.’ Legend has it that wherever a freedom fighter for Israel fell, a flower grew, red as his blood. Even in the world of Nazi evil, flowers continued to bloom. Among the ruins and rubble through the evil of hatred, betrayal and destruction, flowers bloomed.

These flowers are the Righteous Among the Nations, human freedom fighters who wrote a chapter on human dignity in the shared history of the nations. In Poland, they say, many such flowers bloomed.

“I cannot conclude without thanking all those who didn’t stand aloof, who saved lives that are worlds unto their own,” the president added, praising the Righteous Among the Nations, gentiles who saved Jews from the Nazi murderers.

“Thank you for your courage. You have a large warm family in Israel: grandparents, parents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who owe you their lives.”

President Rivlin to Inaugurate Jewish Museum of Warsaw

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

President Reuven Rivlin is set to inaugurate the Jewish Museum of Warsaw next month during his first state visit to Poland.

Rivlin was invited by his counter part, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, with whom he will meet together with other senior state officials.

Rivlin is also scheduled to address Poland’s governing parliament during his visit, in Hebrew.

Israeli high school students travel to Poland every other year to participate in the “March of the Living.” The pilgrimage honors the fallen Jews who were murdered at concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Jack the Ripper Identified as Jewish Barber from Poland

Monday, September 8th, 2014

The brutal serial killer Jack the Ripper has been identified through DNA as a Jewish barber who immigrated to London from Poland, but many experts question the DNA claim while acknowledging that the murderer probably was Jew from Poland.

Businessman Russell Edwards, an amateur Jack the Ripper sleuth, and molecular biologist Dr. Jari Louhelainen, of Liverpool John Moores University, made the discovery through DNA traces found on a shawl recovered from one of the crime scenes that allegedly belonged to one of his victims.

The discovery is announced in a book by Edwards that is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, the Daily Mail first reported on Sunday.

Edwards identifies the killer as Aaron Kosminski, who would have been age 23 at the time of the murders.

Kosminski came to England in 1881 with his family. He reportedly lived near the scenes of the murders, was taken in by police as a witness at the time of the murders and was later released. He died in an insane asylum in 1919.

The serial killer nicknamed Jack the Ripper is accused of killing five women over about three months in the fall of 1888 in and near the Whitechapel district of London. The victims’ throats were cut and their bodies mutilated.

Edwards bought the shawl, which allegedly came from the murder scene of the killer’s fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes and still contained bloodstains, at an auction in 2007. Louhelainen was able to find blood that matched the victim, and other body fluids which ultimately were linked to Kosminski.

Scientists and scholars questioned whether Edwards and Louhelainen’s evidence on the shawl can support positive identification/

“The shawl has been openly handled by loads of people and been touched, breathed on, spat upon,” Richard Cobb, who runs Jack the Ripper conventions and tours, told The Times of London. “My DNA is probably on there. What’s more, Kosminski is likely to have frequented prostitutes in the East End of London. If I examined that shawl, I’d probably find links to 150 other men from the area.”

Sir Alec Jeffreys, who invented the technique of DNA fingerprinting, told the Independent that despite the lack of convincing evidence, his recollection of a visit to the Black Museum at New Scotland yard led him to believe that “Kosminski was long regarded as by far the most likely perpetrator.”

Canadian Israeli Philanthropist David Azrieli, 92

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Far from the flying missiles and mortar shells, Canadian Israeli philanthropist David Azrieli has passed away at the age of 92.

Best known in the Jewish State for the landmark three geometric-looking towers in Tel Aviv that bear his name, Azrieli died in Montreal at his country home.

A man with a lifelong love affair with the Zionist State, Azrieli was a member of the Forbes’ billionaires’ list, with a net worth of $2.9 billion.

But he spent millions on tzedaka – charity – and his family donated $100 million in various funds over the past 23 years alone. The Azrieli family has pledged to match that in the coming five years.

Born in 1922 in Poland, Azrieli was 17 when he fled the Nazis, moving east to join the Polish “Anders” Army in Bukhara. Together with his new host “family” he moved into Iran and then to Baghdad, where two Hagana agents – Moshe Dayan and Enzo Sereni — persuaded him to switch allegiance and move to Palestine.

Azrieli fought in Israel’s War of Independence with the Seventh Brigade, later going on to attend the Technion and then years later the University of Montreal when he moved to Canada in 1954.

He married his wife Stephanie Lefcort there, and the two had four children together; Rafael, Sharon, Naomi and Danna. It was there in Canada that Azrieli also started Canpro, a real estate firm. But 20 years later he was back in Israel to build a new mall in Ramat Gan, following that with more malls throughout the country.

Owner of more than a dozen shopping malls in Israel, the Azrieli Group also owns 20 percent of the Leumi Card firm, as well as 4.8 percent in in Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd. The group also owns the Sonol, Supergas and GES energy and environmental firms.

Last Thursday, his daughter Danna Azrieli succeeded him as chairman of the Group.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/canadian-israeli-philanthropist-david-azrieli-92/2014/07/09/

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