Israel’s non-Jewish religious leaders get history lesson in Poland
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Israel’s non-Jewish religious leaders get history lesson in Poland

Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Anglican priests and Druze sheikh visit Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz

Pope Francis walks towards the main entrance with the lettering 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (Work Sets You Free) at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland on July 29, 2016 (AFP PHOTO/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)
Pope Francis walks towards the main entrance with the lettering 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (Work Sets You Free) at the former Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Oswiecim, Poland on July 29, 2016 (AFP PHOTO/FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

WARSAW, Poland — The leaders of several religious groups in Israel visited Poland to learn about Jewish life there now and in the past.

On Sunday the delegation met with representatives of Warsaw’s Jewish community at the Nozyk synagogue and the following day visited the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

The group was to later travel to Krakow to meet with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, as well as local Jews. On Wednesday, the delegation is set to visit the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and meet with Polish bishops.

Israel’s deputy ambassador to Poland, Ruth Cohen Dar, told JTA that the mission was bringing “the most important religious leaders in Israel to Poland.”

The entrance to the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland, the only surviving synagogue in Warsaw built before World War II. It was built between 1898-1902 and restored after World War II. It is still operational and currently houses the Warsaw Jewish Community, as well as other Jewish organizations. (Flash90)
The entrance to the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland, the only surviving synagogue in Warsaw built before World War II. It was built between 1898-1902 and restored after World War II. It is still operational and currently houses the Warsaw Jewish Community, as well as other Jewish organizations. (Flash90)

It includes the Greek-Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus II; the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian; the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani; and Druze sheikh Muafak Tarif.

The delegation, she said, has arrived with a clear message that they will do everything to preserve and teach future generations about “respect for memory, respect for other people, tolerance, fighting extremism and anti-Semitism that has become more and more visible these days.”

Cohen Dar said she hopes this kind of mission will bring peace because “you see together Muslims, Christians, Jews and Baha’is sitting together, talking, dialoguing.”

Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, reciting a prayer for the victims of the Jedwabne massacre at the town’s Jewish cemetery, July 10, 2016. Second from left is Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. (Cnaan Liphshiz)
Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, reciting a prayer for the victims of the Jedwabne massacre at the town’s Jewish cemetery, July 10, 2016. Second from left is Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

At the meeting Sunday in Warsaw, the country’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, told the group that “Jewish life in Poland is a unique experience.”

Schudrich said that before the Holocaust, Poland was the center of the Ashkenazi world and among the most dynamic Jewish communities. He also noted that 1,400 Jewish cemeteries still exist in Poland.

Polish Jews must “preserve the past, remember the Shoah, and build the future,” he said.

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