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Jewish Life Revives in Poland as Poles Confront Their Country’s Complex History of Interaction with Judaism

Allan C. Brownfeld
Spring 2008

Poland — where more than 3 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, the most of any country in Europe, is now seeing what The Washington Post has called “a small but remarkable renaissance of Jewish life.”  
Poland now has a chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, a native New Yorker who has returned to the country of his ancestors. When he moved to Warsaw in 1990, he described the country’s Jews as “a broken population.” As a representative of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, established to rebuild Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, Schudrich was assigned to see what could be done for Poland’s Jews.  
Many doubted whether Warsaw — home to 393,000 Jews prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland, but only 5,000 in 1945, after the Nazis were driven out, would ever have a visible Jewish population again. Slowly, however, with the end of Communism and the establishment of a new, democratic government, Poland’s Jews have slowly rediscovered themselves.  
Talking Real Numbers  
Rabbi Schudrich recalls that, “One guy would visit me and say, ‘Rabbi, there are no Jews left in Poland, except for my aunt.’ Another one would say, ‘Rabbi, there are nc Jews left in Poland, except for my old classmate from the third grade.’ After a while, you begin to put all the aunts and third-grade classmates together, and you were talking real numbers.”  
Though community leaders are reluctant to provide estimates, they guess there are at least 20,000 — perhaps 30-40,000 — Poles who identify themselves as Jews. About 2,000 are active members of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, an umbrella group founded in 1993 that today has chapters in Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, and five other cities.  
Since then, a Jewish primary school has opened in Warsaw, as have several Jewish kindergartens, youth centers and summer camps across the country. Eight rabbis have been assigned to Poland to serve the revived population.  
Konstanty Gebert, a prominent Polish journalist, said Schudrich, an Orthodox rabbi, has an instinct for reaching out to Jews who were confused and uncertain about their heritage. Many came from mixed marriages. “None of us, almost none, had any religious background at home,” said Gebert, who writes for the leading Gazeta Wyborcza daily and is also publisher of Midrasz, a Jewish monthly magazine. “He was willing to take us as we were. He would never kid us that being Jewish is simple or easy, yet he never gave up on us as Jewish basket cases, either.”  
“Vibrant, Dysfunctional Community”  
Today, Schudrich jokes that he oversees “one of the most vibrant, dysfunctional communities in Europe.” He tells the story of the skinhead teenagers who got married out of high school and had a baby. The young mother belatedly discovered that she had Jewish roots; not sure what to do, she started making Sabbath dinner for her confused husband. His parents were furious and tried to break up the marriage. “Why were they so much against this? Because they were both Jews!” Schudrich said, explaining that the parents had always concealed the fact from their son. Today, the couple is still together and increasingly devout. “It’s very romantic; two Polish skinheads fall in love in high school and later discover their Jewish roots,” the rabbi said.  
Stanislaw Krajewski, a philosophy professor and Jewish community leader in Warsaw, said it wasn’t as strange as it might seem to have an American as chief rabbi to Poland’s Jews. Of the eight rabbis serving in Poland today, only one is a Pole — and he returned to his native country only last year. Prior to that it had been four decades since a Pole had become a rabbi and served in his homeland.  
“To us, this is a rather normal thing,” Krajewski said of having a foreigner in charge. “The question is whether they understand Polish culture, Polish subtleties, the Polish language. And Michael does. He understands very, very deeply the subtleties of Polish Jewry, the complicated history, the fears.”  
Hidden Jews  
“Imagine going back to Spain in the 1540s,” says Rabbi Schudrich, “and imagine that the Inquisition is over. How many of the hidden Jews could you save, prevent from disappearing into history?”  
“Had Communism never fallen,” Schudrich says, “the secret would have remained and become more difficult to solve as time went by. But the fact that communism fell only a generation after the Shoah allows Jews to ‘return’ if they want to. The challenge to the Jewish leadership of Poland — and really to the entire Jewish world — is how to return these Jews to Judaism. So much is possible. The only obstacle is our own will.”  
After the Holocaust, he said, most of Poland’s surviving Jews “either left Poland or left Judaism. So many of those who stayed behind kept their Jewishness a secret, not even telling their children and grandchildren of their Jewish roots, that the community’s very future was in doubt.”  
Accepting of Judaism  
For the most part, Schudrich says, Polish society has been accepting of Judaism’s increasing prominence: “Most people assume that Poles think the same way about Jews in 2005 as they thought about Jews in 1945 and 1925 and 1905. But Polish society has changed tremendously in the past 15 years, with the collapse of communism, and the onset of democracy. People are throwing off the things that came with the old order including anti-Semitism ... not completely, but to a large degree. There is this feeling that, if something came with communism, it must have been bad. So most people have decided to reevaluate what they think about us. And really, most Poles don’t think about Jews much today. They think about buying a new car, or a laptop computer ... capitalism has been a fabulous preventative to anti-Semitism.”  
Poland’s new democracy poses a challenge for the Jews as they learn to integrate their Jewish and Polish identities. At the same time, a new pride is taking root, as evidenced by the growing number of worshippers in Warsaw’s Nozyk Synagogue, which survived World War II. Every Sabbath, between 50 and 70 people attend the synagogue. Ten years ago, simply getting the minimum quorum of 10 men was a struggle.  
This past June, the Nozyk Synagogue, which the Nazis used as a stable, hosted a double wedding, bar mitzvah and baby-naming ceremony — all in one weekend. For one of the two couples, Tsuriel and Ora Kuvarik, this was not their first wedding — they were married years ago, and already had an 8-year-old son — but rather an opportunity to finally experience a Jewish marriage ceremony.  
First Polish-born Rabbi  
The community’s greatest success story may be Rabbi Maciej Pawlak, the 29-year-old principal of the Lauder-Morasha School, a Jewish day school in Warsaw founded by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in 1994. Growing up in Szczecin in an assimilated Jewish family, he started exploring his roots at age 15. After turning to Schudrich, he began studying Judaism in earnest, and eventually went to learn more at New York’s Yeshiva University. Today he is the country’s first Polish-born rabbi ordained since the Holocaust.  
None of this could have happened without Schudrich, say Jewish community leaders. It began in 1973, when Schudrich came to Poland on a high school trip. His uncle, Henry Starer, a survivor of the Terezin and Birkenau concentration camps, had taught him about the Holocaust, and Schudrich says, “Everyone was saying there was nothing left in Poland, but I refused to believe it.” He returned several times, took up Polish and was ordained as a rabbi. In 2000 he became the spiritual leader of the Nozyk Synagogue and in 2004, the chief rabbi of Poland.  
There are other signs of Jewish life in Warsaw. The 400-seat National Jewish Theater, named after the late Yiddish actress Esther Rokhel Kaminska, features Yiddish plays, performed. by a troupe of non-Jewish actors. A Yiddish club meets regularly to read literary works in their original Yiddish. A progressive synagogue, Beit Warszawa, has also been attracting interest among Polish Jews seeking to explore their heritage.  
Progressive Jewish Community  
Born in Tarnopal, Poland (now Ukraine) in 1936, Holocaust survivor Severyn Ashkenazy has played a central role in creating Beit Warszawa, the only Progressive Jewish community in Warsaw. A Los Angeles-based real estate developer and philanthropist who spends half the year in Poland, he was interviewed by Reform Judaism editor Aron Hirt-Manheimer (Winter 2004).  
Ashkenazy notes that, ‘The impetus began in the early 1990s when I took a business trip from Los Angeles to the land of my birth. At first, I heard from the rabbi in Warsaw and others that Jewish life in Poland was coming to an end ... Yet, as I spent more time in Poland, I began to question this prognosis. Again and again, I encountered people who claimed not to be Jews, but somehow I had the sense that they were in fact Jews pretending to be Christians. Then in Warsaw, about five years ago, I met a fellow Jew, Philip Roeder, the manager of HBO Poland ... I asked him if he had Jewish friends in Poland. He said yes, and I suggested he arrange a get-together. Shortly afterwards, he invited me for coffee at Warsaw’s Bristol Hotel. We were joined by two Polish Jews and three American expatriates, one of whom had been involved in creating Bejt Praha, a non-Orthodox congregation in Prague. A week later our group met again and decided to organize a monthly oneg Shabbat. Approximately ten Jews and 20 Poles attended our first event, and eventually many of them declared themselves to be Jews. Over time our services evolved.”  
Slowly, Beit Warszawa has grown. It now possesses two Torahs, one bequeathed by a congregation in Mississippi and the second originally from the Great Synagogue in Lvov, Ukraine, donated by Rafal Imbro, an international businessman and prominent Judaica collector living in Poland. What is the secret of its success in attracting young people? Mr. Ashkenazy declares: “A significant number of Polish young people with a Jewish background seek us out because we offer a positive, joyful approach to celebrating Jewish tradition and culture. In contrast, the Orthodox community in Poland is rigid and quick to reject young people who are unsure about or reluctant to admit their Jewish roots. Many young people are disappointed by the Orthodox, but desperate to find a place among our people. One of them said to me, ‘I was always attracted to Jewish things, Jewish life, Jews ... I always felt like a stranger in a non-Jewish environment ... and have found my happiness here with other Jews.’ At Beit Warszawa we do not turn away such people; we embrace them in the spirit of Progressive Judaism.”  
Embracing Its Jewish Past  
In many ways, Poland is moving to embrace its Jewish past. The government, alongside the Polish Jewish community, is planning to build a $58 million museum of the history of Polish Jews in Warsaw. “Our goal is to return to the light of memory the thousand-year history of Jews in Poland which has almost been forgotten,” says Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, the museum’s director of development. “The museum will show that not only were people killed but their culture was killed and even their memory was destroyed.”  
The Financial Times reports that, “The museum is part of a wider trend in Poland of nostalgia towards the Jewish presence, coupled with a decline in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incidents ... Krakow is now home to one of the most vibrant festivals of Jewish culture in the world, and museums are springing up across the country, most of them founded and run by non-Jews to remember that Jews were once an integral part of Poland ... For centuries Poland’s relatively free society made it home to the largest Jewish community in the world and took in immigrants who had been expelled from Spain, England, Russia and other European countries.”  
Feliks Tych, head of the Warsaw-based Institute of Jewish History, argues that critics have too harshly judged the role of the Poles during the second world war. In Warsaw, some 30,000 Jews were hidden by Poles during the war, implying that some 100,000 Poles risked execution to help hide them. However, most of the 300,000 Polish Jews who survived the war left the country when they were faced with anti-Semitism by Poles who did not want to return Jewish property obtained during the war.  
Although, according to opinion polls, about a fifth of Poles still harbor anti-Semitic views, Poland has less anti-Semitic violence than France or Germany and anti-Jewish slurs are now almost unknown in politics. Mr. Tych says: “In Poland, anti-Jewish feelings are based on myth: people who don’t like Jews have not been able to confirm (their views) because there are (now) almost no Jews in Poland. On the Jewish side, there is a reluctance to accept any positive changes in Polish views.”  
President at Museum Groundbreaking  
In June, President Lech Kaczynski, together with prominent American Jewish philanthropists, broke ground on the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Forward (June 29, 2007) reported that, “The scene would have been hard to imagine just a generation ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir famously quipped that Poles suck antisemitism in with their mothers’ milk. Indeed, the convergence of Jewish and Polish support for a museum dedicated to Polish-Jewish history — built in large part with public Polish funds, no less on the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto — has drawn remarkably little protest from two peoples long distrustful of each other. In a land that for many Jews is synonymous with Auschwitz, the common vision for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews extends all the way to the decision to give minimal curatorial attention to the Shoah. The museum’s mission even passes muster with Marek Edelman, the man with perhaps the greatest claim to guardianship over the museum site.”  
“I don’t know what percent — 15%-20% — of the museum’s exhibits should focus on the Holocaust, but I know it has to be a museum about the entire long history of Polish Jews,” Edelman, the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising said. “The rich history has to be recalled, not only the disaster.”  
The museum will recall a millennium’s worth of that history when it opens its doors in 2009. Designed by Finnish architects Ranier Mahlamaki and Illmari Lahdelman, it is being promoted as the world’s first museum dedicated entirely to Polish Jewish civilization. It is expected to bring in a half million visitors annually, including an estimated 30,000 Americans and 50,000 Israelis.  
Doorway of a New Era  
“We’re poised at the doorway of a new era, where exploring our Eastern European Jewish history will become as much a part of our community as Holocaust education became after it took off in the 1900s,” said the Krakow-born Ted Taube, a major backer of the museum and a leading figure in the revival of Jewish life in Poland. “The new museum is helping to open that door.”  
To judge by the public money being poured into the museum, such sentiments are shared by the Polish government. The Ministry of Culture has donated $13 million, as has the city of Warsaw. The municipality has also donated the 3.2 acres on which the museum is being built and pledged to pick up 90 percent of its estimated $4 million annual operating costs.  
According to The Forward, “The allocations have been met with notably scant criticism in a country with a steadily rising public debt that is threatening to reach 60% of GDP. Public support for the museum, according to Warsaw-based journalist Witold Zygulski, is an outgrowth of increasing awareness among Poles of the need to create an institutional memory of Poland’s past.”  
“The need for a museum of this kind has been clear for at least two decades, since Poland became independent,” said Zygulski, news editor of the English-language Warsaw Voice. “I haven’t heard about any controversy apart front the shouting of a very small group of nationalists.”  
The Forward reports: “Equally notable for its absence, given the museum’s location on the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto, is criticism from Jewish quarters about the museum’s relative lack of attention to the Holocaust. The period between 1939 and 1945 is addressed in only one of the eight galleries that will constitute the museum’s 40,000 square-foot permanent exhibition, which is planned by a team led by New York University Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett.”  
Warsaw Ghetto Site  
According to Feliks Tych, a member of the group that first conceived of the museum in the early 1990s, building on the Warsaw Ghetto site is anything but at odds with the exhibitions’ sidelining of the war years. Indeed, he argues, it is the museum’s very location that allows Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s team to focus on the centuries when Jewish life flourished in Poland.  
“The fact that this museum is in the very heart of the Jewish quarter before the war, where most of the Warsaw Jews were living, will stress the importance of the Holocaust,” said Tych, a board member of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, the Polish organization behind the museum. “Every narrative will start at the place where this museum was erected.”  
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported in June that eleven leaders from Poland’s top business and employer associations joined forces recently to announce their endorsement of the museum and to urge members to contribute financially.  
“For all Poles, the memory of the Jewish People is part of the history of the Polish commonwealth that should — no, must — be remembered, with all its positives and negatives,” Slavomir Majman, president of the Managers Association of Poland and a museum supporter, said. Majman and his colleagues have signed a petition calling on businesspeople to make donations to the museum.  
“When I saw these guys standing in front of the television cameras, signing the petition without fear, I thought, ‘Is this the Poland I’ve been reading about?’” asked Ewa Wieraynska, the museum’s deputy director.  
She was referring to media coverage since the League of Polish Families, a party with a history of anti-Semitism, joined the governing coalition in April. In addition, several high-profile incidents during the past year, including anti-Jewish comments on a Catholic radio station, and a physical attack on the country’s chief rabbi, raised fears among some for Polish-Jewish relations.  
1,000 Years of History  
Museum advocates view it as a way to show the world that the Holocaust should not be the starting and stopping point for those learning about Polish Jewry. “The museum will help people all over the world learn not just how we died in Poland, but how we lived for nearly 1,000 years,” said Stephen Solender, co-chairman and president of the museum’s North American council. “Visitors will also learn what contribution Polish Jews made to Poland and the world.”  
Former Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski says, “I remember the time when 30 percent of Warsaw’s population was Jewish. The world must know that this museum is being raised by Polish hands.”  
Poland’s president urged Poles to remember how Jewish history was entwined with their own, as he launched work on June 26 on the museum. “For 900 years our histories mingled. There were better times and worse ones ... But the history of Jews is the history of my country, my people,” said President Lech Kaczynski. “For us, the museum gives us a big chance: to fill gaps in our knowledge and to make peace.”  
Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, who leads the fund-raising effort for the museum, says; “Much as Roman Polanski’s film ‘The Pianist’ shows that some shred of Jewish life and Polish decency survived World War II, this museum is an effort to show that for eight centuries Poland was a vibrant center of Jewish culture ... On the eve of World War II, one in 10 Poles was Jewish with Jews constituting up to one-third of the population of cities like Warsaw. We can’t tell two stories, the history of Poland and the history of the Jews, because simply they exist together and they must be told together.”  
Long and Complex History  
The history of Jews in Poland is long and complex. In his book, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, Abba Eban writes that, “Jews must have been among Poland’s 12th century German colonizers: excavations in Poland have unearthed coins from the period with Hebrew inscriptions. This suggests that at least some Polish Jews must have enjoyed considerable wealth and influence. Another general upsurge of German immigration came after the Mongols overran Poland in 1240-41. No doubt many Germans and Jews at this time crossed the border into Poland because there was no centralized authority to stop them.”  
But the Jews also came by invitation. In 1264, the Polish King Boloslav V issued a charter protecting the Jews and guaranteeing their right to take part in commerce. ‘The charter was ratified and then extended by Casimir III (“Casimir the Great,” 1333-1370), a formidable administrator who befriended Jewish settlers, as well as the peasantry. According to legend, Casimir had a Jewish mistress and their daughters were raised as Jews.  
Casimir III extended the rights, privileges and protections granted to the Jews by the Statute of Kalisz, most of those included in his charter of 1334 were of an economic nature. He also granted the Jews a greater measure of communal self-rule than they had ever enjoyed in Polish lands. Casimir declared: “We desire that the Jews whom we wish to protect in our own interest, as well as in the interest of the Royal Treasury, should feel comforted in our beneficent reign.” Thus, the Polish regions beckoned to hundreds of thousands of desperate Jews attempting to flee from the horrors of the Crusades, the Black Death, the Hussite wars in Bohemia, and the genocidal slaughter led by rabble-rousers such as Rind Fleisch and Armleder.  
Poland Welcomed Jews  
Poland’s leaders needed Jewish traders and craftsmen and their knowledge of commerce. Jews were subject only to the King’s own courts or those of his representatives. The murder of a Jew was punishable by death, and even failure to help a Jew who was attacked was punished with a fine. The distribution of anti-Jewish literature was forbidden and when, in 1244, the Polish King established a Jewish social class, it represented an unprecedented approach at that time in a Europe which was engulfed by the Inquisition.  
The Jewish Council of Four Lands, founded in 1581, was another political institution unique in Europe. It was responsible for Great Poland, Little Poland, Lithuania and Russia, the four main territories within the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom. It was concerned mainly with internal Jewish affairs and kept in close contact with the authorities.  
The role Jews played in Poland placed them in a tenuous position, between the nobility and the peasants. The fact that Polish noblemen nearly always had Jews as managers of their estates and collectors of their taxes drew upon the Jews the resentment and hatred of the peasants. Frequently, Jews leased the flour-mill from the lord, as well as the fishing-pond or the liquor-brewery, for which they paid a yearly rental. He collected this rent together with a profit by making the peasant pay every time he brought flour to be ground, or wanted to catch some fish or brew some liquor. Then the peasant paid his taxes to the lord, he had to hand the money to a Jew, who had probably already paid the lord for the privilege of collecting the taxes. This tax-farming is as old as the Roman Empire, if not older. It has always been a cruel system, since the tax collector often took far more than the actual tax.  
Religious Hatred Penetrates Poland  
When the Ukrainian Cossack leader Chmielnicki attacked Poland and conquered the Polish Army in 1648,the half-enslaved peasants took the opportunity to rebel. Among their first victims were the Jews, and they treated them with inhuman cruelty, venting all the hate they felt for their lords and the lords’ Jewish agents. Jews were massacred by the thousands. The tragedy was repeated during the popular uprising in the Ukraine and Podelia in 1768, when thousands of Polish aristocrats as well as Jews suffered terrible deaths.  
The epidemic of religious hatred penetrated into Poland. During the 15th century, regional church councils periodically issued anti-Jewish decrees that forbade Jews to have any social intercourse with Christians and forced them to pay a special Jews’ tax for the support of the churches. As in other parts of Europe, the church laws forced the Jews into ghettos and obliged them to wear the yellow badge on their outer garments identifying them as Jews.  
Poland’s history has been a tragic one, not least because of its location in the center of Europe, with Germany on one side and Russia on the other. In 1654, Russia invaded Poland and expelled or slew all Jews in the towns she conquered. On the West, Poland was being attacked by another enemy, Charles X of Sweden. The Swedes had not special enmity to the Jews, but Jews suffered from both the Russians and the Poles. In the ten years of warfare from 1648-1658, over 100,000 Jews lost their lives. Poland itself was doomed. Its king was nearly powerless, its Diet (or Congress of Noblemen) was inefficient. Always needing money the government tried to get it from the Jews. In the 19th century, the occupying powers abolished many of the laws that protected the Jews, but the patriotic feelings toward Poland of most Jews prevailed and they supported the struggle for independence, fighting in the Kosciuszko Uprising (1794), the November Uprising (1832) and the People’s Spring (1848-49).  
Jewish Religious Revival  
Out of the bleak physical and spiritual landscape, Abba Eban writes, “arose a Jewish religious revival that would change the face of Judaism as no sectarian movement had since Roman times. The movement was Hasidism — literally ‘pietism’ — and its father was Israel ben Eliezer (c.1700-1760), better known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (‘Master of the Good Name’), or anagramatically to his followers as the Besht. The Besht edited no texts, wrote no tracts, compiled no manuals. Hasidic tradition has it that the Besht was born in Ckop, a small town of Podelia, a region then part of southeastern Poland and today within the Ukraine. The legends emphasize his love of nature and of solitary contemplation ... Unlike the rabbis of his day, he believed that even a simple unlearned man could approach God directly through prayer and worship ... Some recent writers have pointed to the influence of Polish peasant ways on the Besht’s thinking.”  
The most influential of all the yeshivot in the world at the tine of the Renaissance was the one in Krakow, made famous by the Talmudist and educator Moses Isserles (1520-72). A man of considerable secular culture and strong character, he defied the religious fundamentalism of Polish Jewry in his time. He introduced to the curriculum of his yeshiva not only the study of astronomy, history and mathematics, but also the highly controversial Aristotelian philosophic method of Maimonides, the foremost Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages, for whom he had unbounded admiration. Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, the intellectual-religious authority of the Polish Talmudic institutions gradually asserted itself ever world Jewry.  
Tragic Events of World War II  
The tragic events of World War II had a dramatic impact upon the Jews of Poland. Both heroic efforts to rescue Jews, and harsh anti-Semitic attacks were witnessed. The revelation in 2001 that the Jewish residents of the town of Jedwabne were killed by Polish villagers, not occupying Nazis, shocked Polish society. Some Polish intellectuals say that the country has now started to face its past. “This really happened with Jedwabne,” said Stanislaw Krajewski, a professor of logic at Warsaw University and a member of the board of the Union of Polish Jewish Communities. “Everything has been said, there are no taboos. All the things of Poles murdering their neighbors have been discussed, and no one can say ‘I haven’t heard about it,’ as they could have even two years ago.” In 2001, President Aleksander Kwasniewski traveled to Jedwabne to make a formal apology to the Jews on behalf of Poland.  
Poland has honored its citizens who tried to aid victims of Auschwitz. At a ceremony outside the former concentration camp in January, 2007, residents of Oswiecim, where Auschwitz was located, and Holocaust survivors listened to a letter from President Lech Kaczynski praising the efforts of those who risked their lives to help those persecuted by the Nazis. “World public opinion has often held that the residents of the area were completely indifferent to the fate of the prisoners,” Kaczynski said in a letter read on the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A presidential aide awarded medals to some 40 people from Oswiecim and surrounding villages to honor them for trying to help Nazi victims.  
In March, 2007, a 97-year-old woman credited with saving 2,500 Jewish children during the Holocaust was honored by Parliament at a ceremony during which Poland‘s president said she deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Irena Sendler, who lives in a nursing home in Warsaw, was too frail to attend the special session in which senators unanimously approved a resolution honoring her and the Polish Underground’s Council for Assisting Jews.  
Never Sought Credit  
Monika Scislowska reported in The Washington Times: “The attention tires Irena Sendler sometimes. She never sought credit for smuggling 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, anyway. Nor for risking execution to save the children, or holding out under torture by the Nazis or enduring decades as a nonperson under the communist regime that followed. She once dismissed her wartime deeds as merely “the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.”  
Mrs. Sendler, a social worker, began organizing financial and material help for Jews after the war began in 1939 with the Nazi invasion. Posing as a nurse and wearing a Star of David armband — for solidarity and to blend in — Mrs. Sendler would enter the Warsaw Ghetto. A Polish doctor forged papers stating that she was a nurse. The Nazis, who feared the typhoid fever spreading in the ghetto, were happy to let Polish medical workers handle the sick and dead.  
Mrs. Sendler persuaded Jewish parents that their children had better chances if she smuggled them out and placed them with Catholic families. In hopes of reuniting them later with their birth parents, she wrote the children’s names and new addresses in code, on slips of paper, and buried them in two jars in an assistant’s yard. The hope never came true; almost all the parents died. But the jar did save their true, Jewish names.  
Elzbieta Picrswska, nee Koppel, was 5 months old when one of Mrs. Sendler’s associates gave her a narcotic to make her sleep and put her in a wooden box with air holes. Box and baby left the ghetto with bricks on a horse-drawn wagon in July 1942. Elzbieta’s mother hid a silver spoon in the baby’s clothes. It was engraved with her nickname, Elzunia, and her birth date; Jan. 5, 1942. Elzbieta was taken in by Mrs. Sendler’s associate, Stanislawa Bussoldowa, a widowed Catholic midwife. To this day, Mrs. Ficowska calls the late Mrs. Bussoldowa “my Polish mother” to distinguish her from “my Jewish mother.”  
Recognized by Yad Vashem  
Mrs. Sendler was arrested in a Gestapo night raid on her apartment on Oct. 20, 1943. The Nazis took her to the dreaded Pawiak prison, which few left alive. She was tortured but she refused to betray her team. The Polish resistance bribed a Gestapo officer. He put Mrs. Sendler’s name on a list of executed prisoners and let her go. She went into hiding under an assumed name but continued her activity.  
She was recognized in 1965 by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, as “Righteous Among the Nations,” but she was ignored at home. Jewish history was taboo in communist Poland, making Mrs. Sendler an uncomfortable witness, said Michal Glowinski, 72, hidden as a boy by Mrs. Sendler in a convent after his Jewish family escaped the ghetto in Jan. 1943. They were reunited after the war.  
“I remember the streets of the ghetto,” Mr. Glowinski said. “I remember the bodies of people dead of starvation, lying in the streets and covered with paper of light-gray color. I never saw such paper again. I remember the fear.”  
Mr. Glowinski, a literary critic who published his story in the memoir The Black Seasons, said, “I owe my life to Mrs. Sendler. She is an absolutely heroic parson, exceptional,” stressing the “energy and imagination” she exhibited to save 2,500 children when trying to save just one Jewish person could mean instant execution.  
Rescuing and Hiding Jews  
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, twice the foreign minister of Poland, an author and historian, a dissident and ideologue of the Solidarity movement, a prisoner in Communist jails for seven years, an activist in the Polish Underground, and a survivor of 8 months in Auschwitz, is also the last prominent founder of a movement that clandestinely rescued, hid and snuggled Jews to safety in Nazi-occupied Poland.  
Members and organizers of Zegota, or the Council for Aid to Jews, set up in Poland in 1942, operated under Nazi occupation laws that promised instant execution for any Poles — and their families — helping Jewish citizens, even for just sneaking in a piece of bread to a Jewish fugitive.  
In 1940, when he was 18 and about to enter college, the Nazis were rounding up thousands of Polish men, and he landed in Auschwitz three months after the camp was established. Bartoszewski recalls: “That beginning of my adult life was in a Nazi camp. Eighty five per cent of the prisoners who arrived did not survive. I was stronger, more resilient; I was younger. We were beaten every day with clubs, fists, shoes, anything to break our spirit, our backbone. I was one of the lucky ones: Because they did not hit my head, my skull did not crack. When I was released, I dedicated myself to working against such a threat to humanity. Their treatment of me backfired into the exact opposite of what they intended.”  
Zogota was financed by and functioned as an agency of the Polish government-in-exile. It saved, and helped 4,000 Jews, including 2,500 children. The goal of the group was to arrange for escapes, secure forged documents, find overnight shelters and ensure fugitives were fed. In Dec. 2002. the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, the museum’s governing board, honored Baroszewski, 80, with a special certificate commemorating Zogota‘s 60th anniversary.  
Taught to Love Our Neighbors  
“I did not know I was doing anything great,” he said. “I am a Catholic, raised in a Catholic school. We were taught to love our neighbors. It was one of the Ten Commandments;I simply took it for real. These experiences triggered an accelerated maturity when I should have been falling in love and having a good time. I found myself facing ultimate situations and it transformed my life. The burden that fell on my shoulders could break a man or make him grow up fast.”  
Asked to comment on the charges made against the Catholic Church that it did too little to prevent the massacre of Jews, Bartoszewaki insisted that one must distinguish between the Vatican that said too little and the Polish priests who perished trying to help others. About 2,600 priests were killed for supplying falsified birth and baptismal certificates that enabled activists like him to secure travel documents for fugitives and dissidents.  
“Compared to the millions of Jews who were killed, that was a drop in the sea,” he acknowledged. “The Catholic Church, however, did not speak up about the murder of Catholic priests either.”  
As Fritz Stern, the distinguished historian of Germany, recently said: “Even in the darkest period, there were individuals who showed active decency, who defying intimidation and repression, opposed evil and tried to ease suffering. I wish these people would be given a proper European memorial not to appease our conscience, but to summon the courage of future generations.”  
Zookeeper’s Wife  
The director of the Warsaw Zoo and his wife were responsible for saving the lives of about 300 Jews. In her new book, The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman, the noted nature writer, focuses on Antonina Zabinski, the “zookeeper’s wife” of the title. But her husband Jan lived the more dramatic life. He was a lieutenant in the clandestine Polish Army and a professor in Warsaw’s secret university. He smuggled Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto to the zoo. But once there it was up to Antonina to safeguard them: to find them room and food, to keep their spirits up, and most of all to hide them from the Nazis.  
Before the war, the Warsaw Zoo was as esteemed as any in Europe. Soon the Nazis destroyed the zoo with bombs and guns. Led by the criminal zoologist Lutz Heck, they carted off the best animals for their own collections. Then Heck and the SS held a shooting festival on New Year’s Eve, 1939 to finish the job. Their brutality at the zoo foretold the brutality in the war, as Antonina intuited in her diary, which Ackerman draws on heavily for her book. “How many human beings will die like this in the coming months? Antonina asks herself, watching the Nazi shooting spree.  
While Nazis depopulated the ghetto, the Zabinskis repopulated the zoo — this time with humans. The Nazis had allowed Jan to turn the zoo into a pig farm. So Jan and his staff had reason to enter the ghetto to pick up unused scraps to feed the animals. They brought in non-kosher food and smuggled out people. The Zabinskis hid Jews in sheds, enclosures, and even the lion house. Those who had papers or Gentile looks were passed via the underground to other parts of Poland. The rest stayed.  
Outbreaks of Anti-Semitism  
In the aftermath of World War II, Polish Jews were often met with serious outbreaks of anti-Semitism. In his book, Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz, Polish-born Jan T. Gross, a professor of history at Princeton, tells how surviving Jews, having escaped the fate of 90 percent of their community, returned to their homeland to be vilified, terrorized, and in some 1,500 instances, murdered. During the war, while the Nazis killed millions of Jews, Poles killed thousands — most famously, as Gross related in Neighbors, 1,600 of them in the town of Jebwabne in July 1941.  
In the most notorious episode, 61 years ago, residents of Kielce, among them policemen, soldiers and boy scouts murdered 80 Jews. “The immense courtyard was still littered with blood-stained iron pipes, stones and clubs, which had been used to crush the skulls of Jewish men and women,” the Polish-Jewish journalist Saul Shneiderman wrote the following day. It was the largest peacetime pogrom in 20th century Europe, Gross says. But he maintains that Kielce was nothing special. Polish intellectuals were mortified by what was happening in their country, notes Gross. Only a psychopath could have imagined such cruelty, one wrote.  
How can one explain such madness? Gross argues that Poles were feeling guilty, so implicated were they in the Jewish tragedy, aiding and abetting and expropriating, that the mere sight of those wraiths returning from the camps or exile or hiding, people who knew the Poles’ secrets and held title to their property, was too much to bear. So they murdered Jews or chased them away.  
Beginning of a Broad Debate  
Adam Michnik, editor in chief of the influential Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading dissident in the past and himself of Jewish background, points out that, “Several years ago, following the publication of Gross’s book Neighbors about the destruction of a Jewish community in Jebwabne, Poland became the stage of a broad debate that was ignored neither by the Polish president nor the primate of the country’s Catholic Church. There is probably no other country in East Central Europe that accounted for the dark chapters of its own history with such seriousness and honesty.”  
James Reiter, Ambassador of Poland to the U.S., declares that, “The debate ... has played a meaningful role in defining Poland‘s new identity as a democratic and modern nation that considers reconciliation with the Jewish people as its priority. In fact, even skeptics admit that Polish-Jewish dialogue has created a great deal of positive change and helped reconstitute a small but vibrant Jewish community in my country.”  
Those who are establishing the new museum of the history of Polish Jews point out that Poland was home to some of Judaism’s greatest scholars and yeshivas. Many of Poland‘s prominent cultural figures have been Jewish, including Roman Polanski, the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, and the author Isaac Bashevis Singer. Much of Europe‘s richest Jewish culture emerged from Poland — from medieval scholars to the mystical Hasidic movement. “Until 1900 when New York replaced it, Warsaw was the heart of the global Jewish diaspora,” Ms. Juncsyk-Ziomecka said.  
Museum exhibits will include a recreation of a Warsaw street from this golden age, a theater with a recreated performance, a virtual synagogue and a recreation of the Warsaw Ghetto itself.  
Conversation Will Continue  
Jerzy Halbersztadt, a prominent historian who has been named the museum’s project director, said the new museum is needed in order to ensure that the conversation about Poland’s past that began with the Jedwabne revelations is continued. “A lot has changed in the knowledge and attitudes of Jews toward Poles and Poles toward Jews,” he said, “but mainly it is limited to the elites. What is needed is mass education, and in my opinion it is needed on both sides.”  
Today, men such as Ted Taube, Sigmund Rolat and Sheveryn Ashkenazy, after making fortunes in the U.S., have returned to Poland as philanthropists to nurture a grass-roots revival of Jewish life in their homeland. “What the philanthropists have done — along with the importance of the material donation — is also empowered us, encouraged us, let us know we’re not alone,” said Rabbi Michael Schudrich. “That cannot be underestimated.”  
“The population doesn’t have a reasonable chance if there aren’t institutions in place to support them,” said Mr. Taube. He left Poland weeks before Hitler’s tanks rolled across the border in the attack that started World War II.  
Cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder was among the first foreign philanthropists, in the late 1980s, to take an interest in rebuilding Jewish life in post-Communist Eastern Europe. More recently, as the indigenous Jewish community has grown in the young democracy, more philanthropists have started to help.  
Since starting operations in Poland more than three years ago, Mr. Taube’s foundation has donated about $2 million annually and encouraged other donors to contribute another $8 million to help fund rabbis, educational programs, summer camps, and day schools, as well as big-ticket items like the annual Jewish Cultural Festival in Krakow and Warsaw’s landmark Museum of the History of Polish Jews.  
About Jewish Life, Not Death  
“The preoccupation of Jews in most of the diaspora is of Poland as a cemetery for Jews,” he said. But his philanthropy efforts are “about Jewish life in Poland, not Jewish death.”  
Mr. Rolat, who closely cooperates with Mr. Taube and is involved in a host of similar projects, also works extensively in his hometown of Czestochowa to put its tiny surviving Jewish community on its feet.  
Mr. Ashkenazy survived the war in an underground bunker in the Polish city of Tarnopol, in what is now Ukraine. After the war he moved to France before settling in the U.S. where he prospered in real estate. He got involved in Poland in 1999, when he helped launch Beit Warszawa, Poland’s first Progressive, or Reform, Jewish community since World War II.  
Mr. Rolat, who worked as a slave laborer in camps near his hometown of Czestochowa during the war, left Europe for the U.S. in 1948 as the sole survivor of his family. He became wealthy running international finance companies and now helps find Warsaw rabbis, book publishing and educational programs to promote Jewish culture in Polish schools. He also makes a great effort to revive the Jewish community in Czestochowa and is deeply involved in efforts to promote close Polish-Jewish relations.  
Love of Poland  
Writing in The Washington Times, Ryan Lucas notes that, “All three men speak openly of their love of Poland and stress that the country was a true home for Jews for a millennium, where their people achieved great things in the arts, sciences and politics.”  
“Poland really was more than just a country where Jews took refuge,” Mr. Rolat said in Warsaw. “Poland was really our home.”  
For 17 years, the annual Jewish Culture Festival has been held in Krakow in July, this year including 29 concerts, 17 workshops, six exhibitions, several meetings with Israeli authors and Polish experts on Israeli literature, 11 films and tours of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries.  
An estimated 20,000-30,000 people attended the festival, the largest of its kind in Europe. The majority of them were non-Jews. “After 10 years of coming here, this place has practically become my second home,” says Bar. “I’ve been working throughout Europe, performing and giving workshops to artists, but nowhere outside of Israel have I felt such a strong connection to my audience as in Poland — and I sing only in Hebrew. Although the Poles don’t understand a word, they seem to respond to the country’s 1,000 years of Jewish culture, which — unlike buildings — cannot be erased.”  
Jewish Culture Festival  
The Jewish Culture Festival takes place in Kazimierz, Krakow’s old Jewish quarter. The buildings, streets and alleyways, synagogues, squares and cemeteries survived World War II intact retaining an Old World charm. For centuries, Kazimierz enjoyed extensive autonomy and became the main spiritual and cultural center of Polish Jewry. Between the First and Second World Wars, a particularly active secular Yiddish culture developed in Krakow and the Kazimierz district can be seen in the opening scenes of the classic Yiddish movie “Yidl mitn Fidl” (“A Jew With His Fiddle”), filmed in 1936 and starring Molly Picon.  
After World War II, Kazimierz fell into neglect, a backwater unsafe at night. But with denationalization of property following the fall of Communism, and especially after Steven Spielberg filmed “Schindler’s List” there, a form of Jewish culture began appearing again. Seven synagogues still stand in this small neighborhood, three of which are active today. The Remuh synagogue founded in 1553, plundered and devastated during World War II and reconstructed in the late 1950s is open daily. The Temple synagogue, built in 1862, by the Krakow Association of Progressive Israelites, is open only on the high holidays and for special events as is the Kupa synagogue dating from the 11th century.  
The Festival has an annual budget of $800,000, half from state funds and the rest covered by private supporters, according to Janusz Makuch, the founding and ongoing spirit behind the festival, The Jerusalem Report notes that, “Such a Jewish revival in a city an hour’s train ride away from Auschwitz would not have been possible without some one ‘meshugge’ for Jewish culture and religion, and Makuch is that person. Until be was 14 years old, Makuch tells The Report, he had never heard the word ‘Jew.’ An elderly man in Pulawy, his hometown, told him that before the war, half of the city’s population had been Jewish. This shocked the Polish boy so much that he began to search for what be calls ‘my own Atlantis.’ Jewish culture, he adds, is an important part of his Polish culture and he started the festival in order ‘to share with other Poles my fascination with Jewish culture and religion ... I also want to show Poles what they lost, and to focus on 1,000 years of Jewish heritage in Poland, not on the six years of the Shoah.’”  
Resurrect Jewish Kazimierz  
In 1980, Makuch moved to Krakow to begin attending Shabbat services. He made friends with some of the city’s elderly Jews and read extensively about Jewish history and religion. In 1988, when Poland was still under Communist rule, he and Krzysztof Gierat, a film producer who was vice mayor of Krakow, gathered 100 people into a theater to celebrate a one-day Jewish Festival. Now the festival’s sole director, Makuch says that the annual event aims to resurrect prewar Jewish Kazimierz.  
Polish-Jewish publisher and journalist Konstanty Gebert has attended the festival since its beginning. “The generation that was born after the war grew up in a Poland devoid of Jews, but where you felt their absence,” he says. “You see abandoned buildings of a weird architecture, cemeteries with grave inscriptions you cannot even read, and you hear the silence when talking to your parents. You can use curse words as often as you want at your parents’ dinner table and nobody will notice. You say ‘Jew’ and the conversation stops cold. There’s something there — huge, invisible, and yet present. So you’re naturally curious and this curiosity has fueled interest for the festival.”  
The Jerusalem Report spoke with 21-year-old Anna Slobodianek, a volunteer who worked at the festival office and found time to visit the exhibit at the former Schindler factory and attended a “concert on the roof.” Making her way to the klezmer concert at the Temple synagogue, she says that she doesn’t know if any of her ancestors were Jewish “but I wish they were.”  
Exploring Jewish Roots  
A group called Cholent has been formed in Krakow for young people exploring their Jewish roots and identity. It is named after Cholent, the Sabbath stew that is a mixture of long-simmering ingredients. They came from mixed families in which a parent’s or grandparent’s Jewish background was hidden or denied. Danisla Malec, a 29-year-old Jewish activist, asks: “What does it really mean to be a Jew?” “We don’t want to create a definition of a Jew that everyone has to live up to,” explains Cholent member Kasia Czerwonogora, 22, who found out her father was Jewish when she stumbled onto some documents in her family home several years ago. “We want to create a place where all of us with different viewpoints can discuss and find out who we are.”  
The Forward reports that, “... members of Cholent find that more official Jews are not so eager to embrace their search for ways to make the culture live on. Cholent would love to spend time, for instance, with their peers from Israel and North America, who come to Poland on ‘March of the Living’ tours, which take Jewish youngsters to Auschwitz and other death camps and then deliver them triumphantly to Israel. But trip organizers have not yet responded favorably to Cholent. It may be that the narrative spun out in these pilgrimages — Polish Jewry is murdered and gone, Jewish vibrancy can be found only in Israel — cannot beat the lively contradiction that Cholent represents.”  
Discussing the impact of the festival, Rukhl Schaechter, writing from Krakow in The Forward states that, “If the goal has been to bridge the divide between Poles and Jewish culture that once thrived in their midst, the festival has clearly had success on the individual level. Agnieszka Legutko, a 32-year-old woman born and raised in Krakow, led a daily English-speaking tour of the synagogues or Kazimierz. Although raised in a Catholic home, Legutko revealed a detailed knowledge of Jewish ritual objects and practices that would shame many Jews — and she used the Hebrew terms for all of them. Legutko explained that it was her devoutly Christian mother who had first introduced her to Jewish life by bringing her to the festival a number of years ago. Thus began a deep-rooted fascination with Jewish culture that eventually led her to become a doctoral student in Yiddish literature at Columbia University, where she now teaches undergraduate students — almost all of whom are Jewish — the intricacies of Yiddish syntax.”  
Celebrating Jewish Heritage  
Chris Schwarz, a British freelance photographer who roamed the ancient heartland of Polish Jewry to record remnants of a disappeared culture, opened a museum in Krakow to celebrate their heritage. He died in July at his home in Krakow. When he first arrived from England in the early 1990s and wandered through Kazimierz, he “felt that the streets were saturated with centuries of Jewish history,” he said in a BBC interview. “I was intrigued.”  
He was so intrigued, and so immediately reconnected to his father’s Polish-Jewish heritage (his mother is Anglican), that he set off on the first of many journeys through Galicia, a region of Eastern Europe now divided between Poland and Ukraine. Galicia had been a homeland for Jews since the 14th century when Casimir III invited them to settle there with a vow to protect them as “people of the king.”  
In April 2004, in an old furniture factory in Krakow, Schwarz opened the Galicia Jewish Museum. Its main exhibition, called “Traces of Memory,” consists of 150 of his photographs. The museum offers seminars on Jewish history, classes in Yiddish and Hebrew, and klezmer music concerts. “Rather than coming here just to mourn, we should come with a great sense of dignity, a great sense of pride for what our ancestors accomplished,” said Schwarz.  
The New York Times reported, “Mr. Schwarz was buried in a municipal cemetery in Krakow. By Jewish tradition, he cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery because his mother is Christian. In a short profile he wrote for his museum, Mr. Schwarz said, “I am Jewish enough for the camps, but not for the rabbis.”  
Teachings of Pope John Paul II  
The new movement of awareness of Poland’s rich Jewish heritage comes, in part, in Rabbi Schudrich’s view, from the teachings of Pope John Paul II against anti-Semitism, and Poland’s admiration of the United States, where anti-Semitism is scorned. “A third reason,” he says, “is more speculative. Among the younger generation there is a rejection of everything their parents and grandparents stood for. They believe the opposite of the older generation, which was communist and anti-Semitic. Besides being a fad, there is a growing understanding that the Jews were part of the Polish landscape and that the Germans killed them, to some extent with Polish collaboration. This also leads to a feeling of obligation to perpetuate Jewish memory.”  
The small Polish town of Wadowice, population 20,000, is the home of Pope John Paul II. In many ways, it has become a shrine to John Paul. The house where he was born on May 18, 1920 has been turned into a museum. More than 200,000 people annually make pilgrimages to Wadowice to visit the museum. Soon, the museum will add an exhibit about the Jews of Wadowice who perished during the Holocaust.  
New Growth of Jewish Life  
Jewish life is experiencing new growth not only in Warsaw and Krakow but also in Lodz, Katowice, Wroclaw and several, other cities which have services on a regular basis. The Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, an umbrella body of eight Jewish communities, includes all the towns in Poland with considerable Jewish populations, while a second organization, the Cultural and Social Association of Jews, also has a large membership. In September, B’nai B’rith International re-established a lodge in Poland. The 37-member Warsaw lodge is the first to exist since authorities shut down B’nai B’rith lodges in 1938. Dan Mariaschin, the executive vice president of B’nai B’rith says: “The launch of our new lodge in Warsaw carries great significance. Given B’nai B’rith’s long but interrupted history in Poland, the country’s relationship with both the U.S. and Israel bilaterally, and as a member of the European Union, and the revival of Jewish life there, the new lodge can act as an important participant in a wide range of issues on the B’nai B’rith and broader Jewish agenda.”  
Recently, this writer visited Poland and had an opportunity to walk the streets of Krakow and Warsaw as well as the death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau. Visiting Warsaw’s Nozyk Synagogue and Jewish Museum, seeing the old Jewish cemetery in Kazimierz, Charles Schwarz’s Museum, and its synagogues, helps to bring alive the millennium of Jewish history which took place on these sites. It is encouraging to see the re-emergence of Jewish life, which so many thought was gone forever.  
Shadow of World War II  
The larger Polish society also lives in the shadow of World War II and the post-war Communist era. Rather than acquiesce in the Nazi occupation, Poles fought back. On August 1, 1944, the Polish Home Army attacked the German garrison in Warsaw. It lasted for 63 days with the Russian Army passively observing it from across the Vistula River. When the army capitulated on Oct. 2, 1944, the casualties to the civilian population amounted to around 180,000 and 85 per cent of the city was totally destroyed. No nation in Europe was to suffer more than Poland during World War II. Twenty five per cent of its population was destroyed.  
In the Russian occupied part of Poland, the NKVD began arrests of the “enemies of the people,” including officers of the Polish Army. They were sent to Russian equivalents of German concentration camps. More than 1.5 million Poles were deported to remote parts of Russia in what we would now call “ethnic cleansing.” The Russians captured 15,570 Polish officers, including 800 medical doctors. All but 448 were murdered in April 1940 on the orders of the Soviet Government. Two years later, the bodies of the officers were accidentally discovered in a wood near the village of Katyn. The Soviet Government denied any complicity in what came to be known as the scene of the greatest single war crime committed in modern history. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that Russian authorities admitted responsibility for the crime.  
New and Hopeful Chapter  
Now, with democracy progressing, with a free press and freedom of religion, Poland is emerging as a modern European society. The re-emergence of a vibrant Jewish life in Poland is one important example of the progress which is being made as Poles confront their long, complex, and often tragic history. Let us hops that a new and hopeful chapter in that history is now under way.

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