Progressive Rabbi Installed in Poland
Poland's First Progressive Rabbi Since Holocaust
Installed in Warsaw
By VANESSA GERA
The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland - A Polish Jewish community installed its first
Progressive rabbi since World War II Friday in a ceremony filled
with lively music and solemn remembrance of those who perished in
The arrival of Rabbi Burt Schuman, a New Yorker with Polish roots,
represents another milestone in the revival of the Jewish life
nearly extinguished by Adolf Hitler.
The Progressive movement, a major branch of Judaism, is equivalent
to the Reform movement in North America. The Progressive community's
members said Schuman would help them revive the branch of Judaism
that flourished alongside Orthodox Judaism in Poland before the
"Tonight is the realization of a dream, of serving a community in my
ancestral homeland," said Schuman, a charismatic and lively 58-year-
old. "I think it's a tremendous watershed for the liberal movement.
We are on the map in Poland."
Schuman was installed at Beit Warszawa, home to Warsaw's small
Progressive community, in a ceremony presided over by Israeli Rabbi
Uri Regev, the president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
In a congregation hall filled with bright abstract paintings,
Schuman held Torah scrolls as Regev blessed him and hailed him
as "the first full-time permanent rabbi since the Holocaust."
Regev also commented on the formative influence that Poland's Jews
who settled in this eastern European land 1,000 years ago had in
shaping modern Jewish life.
"One may think that they can live a full Jewish life in New York or
Jerusalem," Regev told the congregation of nearly 100 people. "But
without you, we are not complete."
Until the war, Poland was home to nearly 3.5 million Jews, most of
whom perished in the Holocaust. Of those who survived, many ended up
settling in the United States and Israel. Today many Jews in both
countries have Polish ancestry.
Those Jews who remained in Poland after the war suffered a further
tragedy during the repression of communist times, most notably in
1968 when thousands were expelled from the country.
Since the fall of communism in 1989, the Jewish community has grown
slowly throughout eastern Europe, but has been dominated by the
Some estimates put the numbers of Jews in Poland today at around
30,000 out of a population of 38 million.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
Copyright C 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures
No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.409 / Virus Database: 268.15.25/593 - Release Date: 12/19/2006