The Polish Catholic Church has designated Jan. 17 as an annual “Day of Judaism” in Polish churches.
The day will be dedicated to interfaith dialogue and to teaching Polish Catholics about Judaism.
The initiative, slated to involve all Roman Catholic dioceses in the country, follows the example of the Italian Catholic Church, which declared Jan. 17 an annual Day of Judaism in Italy several years ago.
Stanislaw Krajewski, Warsaw consultant for the American Jewish Committee and a Polish Jewish leader long active in interfaith relations, praised the church’s initiative.
“I believe that this is a remarkable project,” Krajewski said in an interview from Warsaw. The Day of Judaism initiative has the “potential to affect masses” of people.
A special insert was added to a church brochure for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity — which is slated for Jan. 18-25 — in order to inform Polish Catholic priests and parishes about the new initiative.
Some 7,000 copies of the brochure will be sent to all Roman Catholic churches in Poland.
Under the slogan “Whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism,” which was taken from a quotation by Polish-born Pope John Paul II, the insert includes an introduction by Bishop Stanislaw Gadecki, who heads the Polish church’s commission on Catholic-Jewish dialogue.
The Day of Judaism, Gadecki wrote, “presents no attempt to proselytize among Jews, and no attempt to judaize Christianity.”
Instead, he said it was meant to promote mutual respect, cooperation and “joint testimony for justice and human dignity.”
The insert proposes special Bible readings for church services that day and suggested a theme for a sermon that day which would include various quotations from John Paul II on Jewish-Catholic relations.
These included the words the pope addressed to Jews when he met with Rome Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff in 1986 — “You are our beloved brothers, our elder brothers” — as well as more recent papal statements, such as “Anti-Semitism has no justification, and must be condemned.”
The suggested sermon said interfaith dialogue demands prayer as well as personal testimonies of stories where prejudice was converted into trust and resentment into love.
It concludes with the statement that the Jewish people are loved by God.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.