Leading Jewish group outraged at beating of Judas effigy in Poland
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Leading Jewish group outraged at beating of Judas effigy in Poland

WJC says Good Friday ritual that cast New Testament villain as a stereotypical Jew was a ‘ghastly revival of medieval anti-Semitism’

A resident of the small town of Pruchnik in southeast Poland beats up an effigy of Judah Iscariot featuring a long nose and ultra-Orthodox sidecurls and brimmed hat, on April 19, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)
A resident of the small town of Pruchnik in southeast Poland beats up an effigy of Judah Iscariot featuring a long nose and ultra-Orthodox sidecurls and brimmed hat, on April 19, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)

The World Jewish Congress on Monday expressed its “disgust and outrage” following reports that an effigy made to look like a stereotypical Jew was hanged and burned in a Polish town as part of an Easter ritual.

Robert Singer, CEO of the New York-based group, said in a statement that “Jews are deeply disturbed by this ghastly revival of medieval anti-Semitism that led to unimaginable violence and suffering.”

Residents, among them children, beat and burned the effigy in the southeastern town of Pruchnik on Good Friday. The figure represented Judas, the discipline of Christ who betrayed him according to the New Testament.

The effigy was given a brimmed hat and sidelocks, making it resemble an ultra-Orthodox Jew, along with a long nose, a trope used by Nazi Germany and by anti-Semites worldwide to demonize and dehumanize Jews. The words “Judas” and “traitor” were written on the doll’s chest.

On Friday morning, Pruchnik residents symbolically sentenced Judas to death, hanged the doll from a tall tree, and then dragged it through the streets with the public — including many children — beating it up with sticks. The ceremony concluded with the burning of the effigy.

Poles also expressed their disgust at the revival of the anti-Semitic ritual. Some posted photos online of the same ritual being carried out before World War II.

Poland, which was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before the occupation by Nazi Germany (1939-1945), has seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years.

Israel and Poland have recently seen diplomatic tensions over a controversial law that forbids blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. That crisis was triggered anew in February after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to the country that some Poles collaborated with the Germans during the Holocaust.

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