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Jews in Poland Mark Passover but See No Let-up in Regime’s Anti-semitic Drive

Passover came to the Jews in Poland this year with little outward difference from years past. In Warsaw, Lodz, and elsewhere, as in recent years, the Jews in the old-age homes –they number some 5,000 – had prepared in advance for the strictest observance of the holiday. They had baked enough matzos for the eight days for themselves and for the private families which so often in the past have chosen to celebrate the seders with them. The old-age homes are, in effect, Jewish religious centers with their own synagogues. Many families attended seders in these homes but there were no difficulties for private families in obtaining all the matzos they required and in holding their own seders.

For many of Poland’s nearly 30,000 Jews, the advent of Passover meant a brief respite from the tension and concern of the day, although there was no let-up in the Government and Communist Party campaign against Israel and Zionism. Official spokesman took pains to stress that this campaign was not anti-Semitic and several of them have recently denied the charges that the Polish authorities were seeking to minimize Jewish martyrdom and Jewish resistance during the Nazi era. But despite the denials, this is exactly what is happening all along the line.

Western Jewish travellers leaving Poland have been searched at the airports and interrogated about their Jewish contacts In Poland. In one case, the address book of a Jewish traveler was photographed before he was permitted to board his plane. These measures have been enforced, presumably, in an attempt to justify allegations against Polish Jews of Zionist contacts.

For many Jewish intellectuals, this Passover season marks the end of an era. Those who have been dismissed from their posts in the ongoing purges, are finding It difficult to secure any other means of livelihood. They exist, meanwhile, on small pensions or their savings. There is no possibility for them to write as no Polish publication would print them and they would not dare to send their writings abroad.

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