Polish government representatives celebrate Hanukka in parliament

Speaker of the Sejm lights Hanukkia at annual Chabad event.

December 13, 2017 12:30
2 minute read.
Polish government representatives celebrate Hanukka in parliament

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki meets Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler. (photo credit: KATARZYNA GWIZDOŃ-CIACHOROWSKA)

WARSAW – Shortly after Poland’s new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, gave his first major speech to parliament on Tuesday, the Sejm hosted its annual Hanukka event organized by Chabad, with the participation of several lawmakers including Speaker Marek Kuchcinski.

“Today is the busiest day in parliament and there is a lot of political stress..., and the fact they found time for this is a very nice symbol,” Chabad’s chief emissary in Poland Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler told The Jerusalem Post.

The Hanukkia lighting ceremony has become a tradition at the Polish parliament, having taken place every year for some 10 years.
Morawiecki’s father, Kornel Morawiecki, who serves as the senior marshal of the Polish Sejm, was among the dignitaries who participated in the ceremony, as well as Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari​ and former ambassador to Poland and speaker of the Knesset Shevah Weiss.

Government representatives who addressed the event stressed that Jews will always be welcome in the country and spoke of the importance of freedom and respect of religion.

“When such important people find the time to attend this event, it’s an expression, it’s saying very clearly, ‘We would like to have this kind of light’ – the light of tolerance, mutual respect and of understanding,” Stambler told the Post.

Addressing the audience, Stambler referred to antisemitic incidents in the country and said: “Darkness is expelled with light. Tonight, an unequivocal message emerged from the complex that represents all Polish citizens, a message of light, of tolerance, of mutual acceptance that is the answer to those that, unfortunately, wish to lead us all to places of darkness.”

Stambler also referred to US President Donald Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, noting that “the Temple where the original menorah was lit dwelled in the physical and spiritual capital of the nation of Israel, which is Jerusalem. Jerusalem is more than just a physical site; Jerusalem represents, in both name and essence, a significant value, which is the value of peace. This value is expressed here this evening at the event that we are attending right now, thus connecting this place to Jerusalem.”

The prime minister did not attend the event but he did stop to greet Stambler ahead of the ceremony.

The menorah was lit by Kuchcinski who tweeted after the event: “The Sejm meetings in the light of Hanukka candles are a testimony to the historical ties and respect that connect the Polish and Jewish communities.”

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