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Polish Jewish conference examines community’s future

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WARSAW, Jan. 26 (JTA) — More than 150 Polish Jews crowded into a lecture hall in downtown Warsaw this week for a conference on the Polish Jewish community’s outlook for the next decade. Sunday’s conference, organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, marked the first time that representatives of all major Polish Jewish organizations came together for such an event. Some 10,000 to 15,000 or more Jews live in Poland, though only a few thousand are affiliated and active members of the community. Since the fall of communism seven years ago, there has been an explosion of interest in Judaism among people of Jewish origin who only recently discovered that they were Jewish or who only recently became involved in Jewish activities. Participants at Sunday’s conference ranged from youthful members of the Union of Polish Jewish Students to elderly Holocaust survivors. There were representatives of the religious community, the secular Jewish Socio-Cultural Association and organizations such as Children of the Holocaust and the Jewish Forum, an organization linking adult professionals and the business community. Most speakers expressed cautious optimism about a Jewish revival in Poland that would guarantee some sort of Jewish future. But they stressed that the future of Jews in Poland was in their own hands and called for cooperation between the older generation of Holocaust survivors and young people trying to create a new Jewish identity.

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