Two weeks after the state visit to Israel by Polish President and former mayor of Warsaw Lech Kaczynski, who arrived with a large delegation and spent most of his time in Jerusalem, another large Polish delegation touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport. Led by Jerzy Kropiwnicki, the mayor of Lodz, which is Poland's second-largest city, the group included municipal and parliamentary representatives, a group of educators, representatives of cultural institutions and a trade delegation. At the reception he hosted on Tuesday night at the Novotel Hotel, Kropiwnicki said that even though Lodz was twinned with Tel Aviv and that he regarded Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai as his best friend in Israel, he also had a close relationship with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and with people in Yad Vashem, who had been instrumental in helping his municipality organize the commemoration ceremony in February 2004, for the 60th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto. Kropiwnicki had come to Jerusalem in 2003 to discuss his ambitious project with Yad Vashem, and had also traveled to New York to speak to various groups of Polish Holocaust survivors to seek their support. At that time, he had met the Polish Consul-General in New York Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, who is now the Polish ambassador to Israel. Magdziak-Miszewska admitted in Jerusalem on Tuesday that she had initially been skeptical, "because so many people from Poland come with big visions," but Kropiwnicki had been undeterred and had pursued the project with determination. "I am happy to be with a man who fulfilled his vision and his dream," said Magdziak-Miszewska. "Here in Israel, we can fulfill our common dreams for the common good." Kropiwnicki noted the number of former residents of Lodz who were present (though he met more of them in Tel Aviv on Wednesday), and said that the number of visits to Lodz by people with roots in the city was constantly increasing. This included not only Jews but Germans and Russians as well. As far as visits from Israel were concerned, the mayor was particularly appreciative of the fact that Israeli youth groups were coming to Lodz and presented keys to the city, as well as the city's coat of arms, a map of the center of the Lodz and a guidebook about Lodz to 10 Israeli guides who regularly lead youth groups to his city. Zvi Bergman, who heads the large organization of Lodz expatriates in Israel, was delighted to welcome the delegation, several of whose members were visiting Israel for the first time. It was very important that mutual visits continue, he said. Earlier in the day, members of the trade delegation had been hosted by the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce which had arranged meetings between Lodz and Jerusalem business people who were interested in developing trade and investment ties in areas of real estate, construction, interior design, plastics, textiles, horticulture, food and wine, furniture, security systems, computers, cleaning and maintenance, clothing, etc. Attorney Maria Wentlandt-Walkiewicz told the Jerusalem business people that investments in real estate in Lodz were worthwhile because land and property are much less expensive than in Warsaw. Wojciech Nicia, whose company produces cakes, cookies and candies, was interested in meeting an Israeli importer but was advised by Chamber president Rami Mandel, who also happens to be the head of Jerusalem Co-Op, that he would have great difficulty due to kashrut requirements. "No problem," said Nicia. "We can take care of that." Mandel who was apparently unaware of the growing presence of Chabad and other religious movements in Poland, was doubtful. Mandel noted that major Israeli companies are successfully doing business in Poland and have opened up branches and representative offices. He said that Jerusalem Co-Op is giving serious consideration to opening a chain of supermarkets in Poland, including Lodz.

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