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

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — – Leaders of several religious groups in Israel visited Poland together

On Sunday they met with representatives of Warsaw’s Jewish community at the Nozyk synagogue. On Monday they visited Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Later they will travel to Krakow to meet with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and the members of the local Jewish community. On Wednesday, the delegation will visit Auschwitz and will meet with Polish bishops.

“Jewish life in Poland is a unique experience,” Polish chief rabbi Michael Schudrich said during the meeting Sunday in Warsaw. Before World War II Poland was the center of the Ashkenazi world, and one of the most dynamic Jewish communities, he added. He also mentioned that 1,400 Jewish cemeteries still exist in Poland. In Schudrich’s opinion, it is most important for Polish Jews to “preserve the past, to remember the Shoah, and to build the future.”

“This event is bringing the most important religious leaders in Israel to Poland,” Israeli vice ambassador Ruth Cohen Dar told JTA.  The Israeli 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 meeting will bring peace because “you see together Muslims, Christians, Jews and Baha’is sitting together, talking, dialoging.”

The members of the delegation include: Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus II; Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian; Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani; and  Druze sheikh Mowafaq Tarif.