Poland's first progressive rabbi since World War II was installed Friday in a ceremony filled with lively music and solemn remembrance of those who perished in the Holocaust.
The arrival of Rabbi Burt Schuman, a New Yorker whose family roots are in Poland, represents another milestone in the revival of the Jewish life nearly extinguished by Adolf Hitler. The community's members said Schuman would help them revive the liberal, modern branch of Judaism that flourished alongside Orthodox Judaism in Poland before the Holocaust.
"Tonight is the realization of a dream, of serving a community in my ancestral homeland," said Schuman, a charismatic and lively 58-year-old. "I think it's a tremendous watershed for the liberal movement. We are on the map in Poland."
"We are a presence that no one can deny, and I truly believe that we are the future of Jewish Poland because of the mix of tradition and modernity that we uphold."
Schuman was installed at Beit Warszawa, home to Warsaw's Progressive community, in a ceremony presided over by Rabbi Uri Regev, the president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.