President Reuven Rivlin..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
President Reuven Rivlin, accompanied by his wife Nechama and senior presidential staff, will leave Israel on Monday night for his first state visit abroad since taking office in July.
Rivlin will fly to Poland at the invitation of President Bronislaw Komorowski who has asked Rivlin to join him in officially opening the core exhibit of the Polin Museum, formerly known as the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Polin is a word play in that Poland in Hebrew is Polin, and the two syllables that make up the word are also the Hebrew for here to lodge. The logo which is a large capital P has been designed to look like the Hebrew letter Kuf which can stand for Kehilla (community in Hebrew) or Kedoshim (holy ones in Hebrew) to signify a community sacrificed on the altar of Nazi brutality.
The museum explores a thousand years of Jewish history in Poland and will serve to some extent to persuade visitors that a visit to to Poland consists of more than Auschwitz and Treblinka.
The museum built at a cost of $110 million is a collaborative effort of Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Municipality of Warsaw and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland.
The concept was initiated by the Jewish Historical Institute in 1995, and the cornerstone was laid in 2007. The Polish government contributed $60 million to the project and the rest was raised from donors, mostly Holocaust survivors or descendants of Holocaust survivors living in the United States.
The museum stands in what was the Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two and faces the famed Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument sculpted by Natan Rapoport. An identical monument stands in the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Rivlin will be given an official pomp and ceremony welcome at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday morning, after which he will have a working meeting with Komorowski, during which they will sign a research and development agreement. Rivlin will later place a wreath at the monument to the unknown soldier, after which he will attend the opening ceremony of the museum where he will deliver an address. Rivlin will also attend the closing session of a large scale R&D conference in Warsaw the focus of which is largely devoted to Israel’s technological achievements..
In the evening he will be the guest of honor at a State Dinner, hosted by Komorowski.
On Wednesday morning he will meet with Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, and with Radoslaw Sikorski, the Marshall of the Sejm, which is the Polish Parliament. Afterwards Rivlin will meet with leaders of the Jewish community before returning to Israel.