Polish Chief Rabbi: Some Jewish responses to Holocaust law irresponsible

Session at Limmud FSU in Warsaw addresses crisis with Jewish community.

Rabbi Michael Schudrich (photo credit: REUTERS)
Rabbi Michael Schudrich
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“Some of the Jewish responses to Poland’s Holocaust law were irresponsible,” Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich said over the weekend during a Limmud FSU Global Leadership Summit that took place in Warsaw.
Speaking during a special session on the subject, Schudrich said on Friday: “To say that all the Poles are antisemites is not true. It’s hurtful. That infamous statement that Poles drink antisemitism with their mother’s milk – my response to that is: ‘Antisemitism is down because they are bottle- feeding.’”
Elaborating on the law, Schudrich remarked: “The real problem now is not the law – it is about letting the antisemitic genie out of the bottle, and that genie doesn’t like to go back in there. How do you reverse it? I don’t know, we’re still working on it.”
Schudrich noted that he had been let down by the Polish President Andrzej Duda, who delivered a speech at the March of the Living ceremony on Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday.
“I was disappointed by President Duda that he simply didn’t say that there were Polish collaborators. It was that one sentence which I begged his people that he should say,” he said.
Duda did not directly address the law in his speech, but said that “a big number” of Poles had done all they could to save Jews, and Poles and Jews had lived together peacefully “until this coexistence was brutally interrupted by the Germans.”
He met with President Reuven Rivlin, who led March of the Living, to discuss the law, but the pair did not reach an agreement.
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Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari also spoke at the Limmud session, saying that “The creators of the law didn’t expect the current crisis with the Jewish community, and the overwhelming response was unexpected.”
She added that contrary to what has been said in the media, “Polish people are constantly apologizing for what happened with the law, and we get an incredible support from the local population. There is such a thing as anti-Polonism, and unfortunately, every idiot had something to add to this fire when it first broke.”
Weighing in on the discussion, Limmud FSU chairman Matthew Bronfman said: “My greatest fear about the law is that it’s a part of something larger, and it’s not just an isolated moment. I truly fear the wave of nationalism around Europe as a whole.”
The conference, which drew Russian-Jewish participants from nine locations, seeks to foster Jewish learning among Jews from the former Soviet Union.