Imams visiting Poland to learn about Jews

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Imams from several Muslim countries and the United States are visiting Poland to learn more about European Jewry.

Thirteen imams from Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim lands, along with five American imams, visited the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on Monday.

The imams, many of whom are teachers at Islamic universities, came to  learn more about the history of the Jewish people, including Jewish life before the Holocaust in Europe.

Representatives of the State Department, which organized the trip, and American Jewish organizations accompanied the group.

The imams also were scheduled to visit the museum at the former Auschwitz concentration camp, and places connected to the Warsaw and Krakow ghettoes.

“Auschwitz is the world’s symbol in talking about man, so beyond the boundaries of cultural and religious divisions,” the director of the Auschwitz museum, Piotr Cywinski, told JTA. “Rejecting a message from Auschwitz would be tantamount to rejection of the knowledge of man.

“In this sense, everyone should understand what the experience of Auschwitz speaks of to his own culture, his own traditions, his own perception of the world.”

The group also planned to meet with Polish Righteous Among the Nations, as well as Catholic, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. The imams also will eat a kosher dinner with Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich.

The visit ends on Friday.

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