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Warsaw marks anniversary of WWII with Shabbat dinner

Hundreds of mostly non-Jews take part in public Friday night meal in town square commemorating 78 years since outbreak of war

German troops parade through Warsaw, Poland, September 1939. (Public domain,  US National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia commons)
German troops parade through Warsaw, Poland, September 1939. (Public domain, US National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia commons)

WARSAW, Poland – Warsaw residents participated in a Sabbath dinner to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Gołda Tencer, the director of the Jewish Theater and the Shalom Foundation, organized a Sabbath dinner Friday night for the people of Warsaw in the square in the center of Polish capital. A few hundred people took part, most of them non-Jews who had never participated in a Jewish Sabbath meal before.

Among the guests were David D’or, an Israeli singer; Krystyna Willenberg, the wife of Samuel Willenberg, a Treblinka survivor who died last year, and representatives of the Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

“On September 1, 1939, 78 years ago, World War II broke out. Just like today, it was Friday,” Tencer said during the evening. “When the Polish Jews sat down to the Sabbath dinner in the evening, they had to feel fear, but none of them could have foreseen that the end of their world would begin that day. Let us remember them today at this Sabbath dinner, and remember them always.”

Until it was demolished earlier this year, Warsaw’s Jewish Theater building stood next to the square where the Sabbath dinner was held. A modern skyscraper is to be built in its place.

“Our building is not there today, but the ‘dybbuks’ of that place stay with us,” Tencer said, using the Yiddish word for the spirits of the dead.

The Jewish Theater in Warsaw continues to perform. Formed in 1950, it and a Bucharest theater are the only two in Europe that perform in Yiddish.

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