Polish rabbis association convenes for first time since Holocaust

Chief Rabbi Metzger attends meeting arranged by Shavei Israel.

poland chief rabbi 29888 (photo credit: Channel 2)
poland chief rabbi 29888
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Nearly 70 years after its demise, the Rabbinical Association of Poland was relaunched over the weekend at a ceremony in Lodz attended by Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger. Metzger signed a special scroll together with Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and other community rabbis serving in Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw and Lodz declaring the formal reestablishment of the group, which prior to the Holocaust had united all of Poland's rabbis. The event took place as part of a weekend conference arranged by the Shavei Israel organization for Poland's "Hidden Jews" which brought together 150 people from across the country, many of whom only recently learned that they have Jewish roots. "Jewish life in Poland has been growing stronger in recent years, as many young Poles have begun to discover their family's Jewish ancestry, which was often hidden out of fear of persecution by the Nazis and the Communists," said Shavei Israel Chairman and Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund. "This trend towards embracing - rather than concealing - one's Jewish identity in a place where the Germans sought to extinguish it six decades ago, is testimony to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people," Freund added. Metzger said he was impressed by the revival taking place among young Polish Jews, and he also praised the establishment of the rabbinical group, asserting that it would help to bolster Jewish and Zionist identity. "I was deeply moved to see the awakening that is taking place among young people in Poland who are reclaiming the Jewish identity that was hidden from them," Metzger told the Post. "These were days filled with much emotion and many tears." The newly-established rabbinical group, he said, "will hopefully serve as an address for those Jewish souls that are stirring anew, and will enable them to come to appreciate the value of Torah, Zion, Yiddishkeit and Israel." On the eve of World War II, Poland was home to over 3,000,000 Jews, more than 90 percent of whom were murdered in the Holocaust. While the current community officially numbers some 4,000 people, it is estimated that there are tens of thousands of "hidden Jews" living throughout the country.