Poland celebrates Day of Judaism

The main celebrations of the Day of Judaism are held in Gdansk. This is already the tenth edition of the Day in Poland, which had been established by the late Polish born Pope John Paul II. One of the main points of the observances is a Declaration of Youth and a debate at Gdansk University under the motto 'When Politics Is A Tool Of Peace'. The debate is chaired by Defence Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and former Israeli ambassador to Poland, professor Shevach Weiss. A common prayer led by the rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich and the archbishop of Gdansk Tadeusz Goclowski is also to be said at the site of a pre-war cemetery of various religious faiths. St. John's church is also the meeting place of Christians and Jews for joint reflection.
Similar events accompanied by special exhibits and scientific seminars have been organized throughout Poland.



Day of Judaism unites Polish Jews and Catholics in Gdansk

Leaders of the Jewish community and Polish Episcopate are taking part in the Day of Judaism, an annual event of the Catholic religious calendar.

Bogdan Żaryn reports

Apart from conducting joint prayer services, delegates are to hold workshops on various aspects of how different religions, prayers and beliefs play significant roles in molding cultural and political fabrics.

The Tenth annual National Day of Judaism brings together leaders of both the Jewish and Catholic faiths in Poland. Apart from holding joint prayer services, delegates from the Catholic Church and the Jewish community in Poland are discussing such matters as whether modern science is destined to be in conflict with religion.

And if religious beliefs can be an obstacle in performing public service. Stanislaw Krajewski from the Polish- Christian Jewish dialogue says that the very fact that this religious event is being held in Gdansk, the cradle of Solidarity has special importance.

"This is a significant event by itself because it is perhaps the only national day which is supposed to be observed by all churches all over the country devoted to Judaism. I think it shows two things: one the universal dimension of the importance of Jews and Jewish religion for the Church for Christianity in general and the specific Polish dimension, the importance of Jews in the history of Poland."

Over the past several years a significant number of Polish families have discovered that they had Jewish roots. For the past five years Polish and Jewish youth participate in the annual March of the Living, paying tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Rabbi of Poland Micheal Schudrich says that dialogue between the Jews and the Catholics in Poland has been flourishing.

"We are at a point now that there is a mature dialogue, a mature discussion within any organization, any group you will always find people who are future oriented and looking to develop relations with others. What has happened in the Catholic Church is that tendency, that stream has been very much strengthened both by Vatican II and the papacy of Pope john the second. I see it as yet another step another hopeful step."

Stanislaw Krajewski from the Polish Christian -Jewish dialogue says that this special event has now taken on new global dimensions.

"The main thing is that this has become a routine and it is clear that contact with the Jews on the basis of respect and even trust is something that has been accepted by the institutional church and this has a definite clear meaning for millions."

Rabbi Micheal Schudrich thinks that events like this one underscore just how open Poland has become in recognizing its common Catholic - Jewish heritage.

"This image of Poland in the eyes of Jews just till a few years ago was very much tarnished and negative. Now what is happening is that that stereotype is being broken and the image that is being rectified is that you have both. You have this open, pluralistic tolerant Poland and you have the non -tolerant Poland. At least now we are starting to see a more balanced picture."

The day of Judaism was initiated by the Polish born Pope John Paul II.