Religious leaders from Israel visit Poland, meet with Jewish and Catholic leaders


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The leaders of several religious groups in Israel visited Poland to learn about Jewish life there now and in the past.

On Sunday the delegation met with representatives of Warsaw’s Jewish community at the Nozyk synagogue and the following day visited the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Later the group will travel to Krakow to meet with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz as well as local Jews. On Wednesday, the delegation will visit Auschwitz and meet with Polish bishops.

Israel’s vice ambassador, Ruth Cohen Dar, told JTA that the mission was bringing “the most important religious leaders in Israel to Poland.”

It includes the Greek-Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus II; the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian; the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani; and a Druze sheik, Mowafaq Tarif.

The delegation, she said, has arrived with a clear message that they will do everything to preserve and teach future generations about “respect for memory, respect for other people, tolerance, fighting extremism and anti-Semitism that has become more and more visible these days.”

Cohen Dar said she hopes this kind of mission will bring peace because “you see together Muslims, Christians, Jews and Baha’is sitting together, talking, dialoguing.”

At the meeting Sunday in Warsaw, the country’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, told the group that “Jewish life in Poland is a unique experience.”

Schudrich said that before World War II, Poland was the center of the Ashkenazi world and among the most dynamic Jewish communities. He also noted that 1,400 Jewish cemeteries still exist in Poland.

Polish Jews must “preserve the past, remember the Shoah, and build the future,” he said.

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