In less than 18 years since it started rebuilding a local Jewish community, the community nurtured by Chabad of Poland is thriving less than a block from the rail stop where the Jews of Warsaw and its environs were loaded onto trains bound for the death camps.
May marks just 80 years (May 1943) after the Nazi General Jurgen Stroop reported to Adolf Hitler that “The Warsaw Ghetto is no more” in a final report on the liquidation of the Ghetto.
Brothers Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler and Rabbi Mayer Stambler arrived in Warsaw in late 2005. Since then, Chabad of Poland serves more than 12,000 Jews annually, convening three prayer services each day, a morning study group with likely the world’s only daily Talmud class taught in Polish, a nightly seminar attended by dozens of eager learners, a bi-weekly women’s class offered by Rebbetzin Dina Stambler, a Sunday school, and pre-school and communal celebrations on Shabbat and holidays.
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Among those who avail themselves of the community’s services are Poles, tourists, business travelers, and students visiting Poland to learn about the Holocaust — including the thousands that join the annual March of the Living tour.
“When we first came to Poland as the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s emissaries we found a generation of Jews who after living through the Holocaust and Communism were unsure of how to practice their religion and interact with Judaism as a whole,” said Chabad of Poland Director Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler.
“We started slow, welcoming them into the spiritual warmth of our home for Shabbat meals, eventually to prayer services and after nearly 18 years, our community has grown, more Jews than ever before are flocking to our Jewish communal center on Slominskiego Street.”
Since the start of the Russian incursion into Ukraine, Chabad of Poland has also been helping Jewish Ukrainian refugees resettle in Poland and serving as a spiritual waypoint for those resettling in Israel and other nations.
Chabad’s locally based emissaries have provided Ukrainian Jewish refugees with shelter, food, and religious services to those in need.
“When war broke out, we began to see a tremendous influx in Jewish families fleeing Ukraine with Poland serving as their first stop,” said Chabad of Poland Co-Director Rabbi Mayer Stambler.
Expenses have risen by more than $2 million since the start of the war, Stambler said.
Israeli, Polish Lawmakers Meet in Jerusalem
Polish lawmakers met this week, meanwhile, with their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem. Both sides characterized the meeting as “positive.”
Polish MP Piotr Zgorzelski told Israeli MKs that the encounter “bodes well for advancing relations between our countries … I believe this is a new chapter between our parliaments.”
Relations between the two countries deteriorated after Polish lawmakers passed a ban on holding the country or its citizens responsible for deaths in Poland during the Holocaust.