It has been said that Poland is a country of ghosts and for the past 68 years, since the invasion of Poland by the Germans in 1939, there has been little to celebrate.
Most of the time when a large group of Jews came together it was to remember the tragedy of the Shoah.
This week more then a thousand people came to celebrate the rededication of the famous Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin, established by the great visionary Rabbi Meir Shapiro in 1930. The yeshiva became known worldwide as the “Oxford of the Yeshiva World” for the quality of both its students and teachers. Tragically, it existed only nine years before the Germans invaded, closed the yeshiva, and murdered most of its students.
The three rabbis of Poland preparing for the celebration of the Siyum of Daf Yomi
Yonatan and Daniela Finkelstein at Havdalah in the restored Beis Midrash
Davening Shacharis in the newly renovated Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin
For years the building served as a medical college, but the name Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin remained in the hearts of Jews worldwide. Other schools used the name, keeping its ideals of scholastic excellence alive. But the physical building remained in the hands of strangers. Three years ago the building was returned to the Jewish community, but it had become rundown and in need of major renovation.
The town crier is one of the many Polish officials who attended the event
Monica Krawczyk, director of the Foundation for the Preservation on Jewish Heritage in Poland, presents a menorah to the renovated Yeshiva building
Rabbi Meir Shapiro, founder of Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin in 1930
The Jewish community of Warsaw, which includes Lublin, decided to take on the project single-handedly. Using monies received as restitution from other properties, they renovated one wing of the building including the fabled beis midrash. The celebration took place over the weekend of Parshas Yitro.
In the coming weeks I will be writing about the events surrounding the celebrations in my regular column, Polin.
Partial view of the more then 1500 people who came to Lublin to celebrate the opening of the Yeshiva
A copy of the original yeshiva banner hanging from the famous balcony
Rabbi Yechiel Kauffman Of Cong. Anshei Sephard of Boro Park, with Mr. Janek Novak, who oversaw the restoration work at The Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin
The original paroches (ark covering) from before the Shoah, in use again