Polish president receives menorah with Jerusalem engraving

The Polish President hosted an annual Hanukka celebration at his palace.

December 17, 2017 15:49
2 minute read.

Chabad emissary Rabbi Szalom Ber Stambler presents Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda with a menorah at a Hanukka event at the palace.. (photo credit: EWA SZMAL)

Poland President Andrzej Duda received a menorah featuring an engraving of Jerusalem, at a Hanukka event he hosted at the presidential palace last week in Warsaw.

Chabad’s chief emissary to Poland, Rabbi Szalom Ber Stambler, presented Duda with the gift on the second night of Hanukka, during the annual presidential celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights hosted by the president and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

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Duda lit the Shamash (attendant candle) and spoke of the importance that the Jewish community will always feel at home in Poland. According to Stambler, he also noted that the subject of Jerusalem was “highly significant” these days.

Poland is one of Israel’s staunchest allies in the European Union. Unlike leaders in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and other EU member states, Poland’s leaders have refrained from criticizing President Donald Trump’s declaration that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Several prominent Polish Jews have called on Poland to follow the example of the Czech Republic, whose president openly supported Trump’s move.

Duda also spoke of the Maccabim as a symbol to all of the war on values, Stambler told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. Duda also mentioned that many Jews have in the past taken an active role in Polish wars.
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Also present at the event was Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari​ and former ambassador to Poland Shevah Weiss.

According to Stambler, a record number of Israelis, 170,000, have visited Poland this year, and thus Chabad representatives enjoyed celebrating the holiday with many of the tourists.

On Monday, a hazzanic concert is scheduled to take place at the National Museum of Ethnography in Warsaw.

All these events follow the annual parliamentary event which kicked off Hanukka celebrations with a candle-lighting ceremony on the first night of Hanukka on Wednesday, immediately after Poland’s new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, gave his first major speech at the Sejm. In that speech, Morawiecki spoke of the importance of unity with the Jewish community of Poland.

In September, Morawiecki, speaking about the Holocaust, said he had two Jewish aunts.

But in an interview with RMF Radio, the prime minister’s father said: “I don’t know about his Jewish roots.”

Kornel Morawiecki said one of the aunts cited by his son was a family friend and he did not elaborate about the other one.

The issue of antisemitism in Poland – where a massive nationalist march last month featured antisemitic chants – is a contentious one among its Jews and led to a public row among community leaders in August.

JTA contributed to this report.

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