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January 28, 1983 - Image 60

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-01-28

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60 Friday, January 28, 1983


Groner Visits Contrasting Jewish Communities of Poland, France


Cong. Shaarey Zedek

(Editor's note: Rabbi
Groner was one of 13
members of a mission to
Poland and France ear-
lier this month, spon-
sored by the Rabbinic.
Cabinet of the United
Jewish Appeal.)
We visited Poland and
saw a country with a
broken, aged, exhausted
Jewish population of be-
tween 5,000 and 8,000.
Jews who have remained
in Poland are today in their
70s and 80s, receiving a
small retirement income
from the government, and
also aided by the Joint Dis-
tribution Committee. The
JDC maintains six kosher
canteens in those cities
which have some Jewish
population remaining, in-
cluding Warsaw, Lodz,
Krakow and Radom.
When we arrived in War-
saw, we immediately vis-
ited the Jewish cemetery on
Gensia Street, which
miraculously survived the
destruction of the Ghetto.
Pinchas Sczeniter, the ven-
erable caretaker, recounts
with pride the stories of the
heroes interred in this
Beisolam — Isaac Leib
Peretz, S. Ansky, Ludwig
Zamenhof, distinguished
rabbis and scholars and re-

sistance heroes of the War-
saw Ghetto.
When a Jew walks
through the streets of
Warsaw today, he is sur-
rounded by ghosts, for
this was once one of the
most Jewish cities of
We visited the Novshik
Shul on Twarda Street and
the Jewish Historical Insti-
tute. The institute has both
an extensive Judaica collec-
tion and a martyr's museum
dedicated to the saga of the
Warsaw Ghetto and the
other Polish ghettos. The
synagogue is being refur-
bished by the government
and the institute is simi-
larly undergoing renova-
All of this is in prepara-
tion for the observance of
the 40th anniversary of the
Jewish uprising in the War-
saw Ghetto that will be held
in Poland April 14-24.
The Jewish communal
organization in Warsaw,
whose leader, Moshe Fin-
kelshtein met with us, is
working with the Polish
government to present the
story of Jewish resistance in
We met with the direc-
tor of the Yiddish theater
in Warsaw which is state
supported. It is a theater
of the absurd. Gentile ac-

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used exclusively for Jews.
the Sephardic immig- Rabbi Sirat, he recalled
In 1978, the Polish gov- rants, whose distinctive the edict of Napoleon of
ernment opened a Jewish customs, traditions and 1808 which instituted the
pavillion in cell block 27, institutions are now consistorial system by
which displays photographs merging into the which the religious
and other exhibits tracing mainstream of Jewish authority of the Jewish
the history of anti- life.
community of France
Semitism. However, be-
Leaders of the Jewish was to be administered, a
cause it is away from the Federation of France (FSJU system still in force to-
central buildings, most vis- — Fonds Social Juif Unifie) day. The Chief Rabbi is
itors do not see the Jewish take justifiable pride in the the representative of the
more than 50 Jewish day Consistoire to the gov-
* * *
Even though the Jewish schools which have been es- ernment of France.
Today, one can identify a
settlement in France began tablished in the country,
in the Fourth Century (and providing secular and Jewish address (school, in-
possibly earlier) the present Jewish studies for stitution or synagogue) in
Jewish community in thousands of students. Paris by two signs: a metal
France is young, with fine These schools are under the grating is placed in front of
auspices of the Alliance Is- the entrance to prevent ve-
and great hope for raelite
tors, who know no Yid-
hicles which may contain
dish, learn their parts the future. France, with
Other communal institu- explosives from being
phonetically and play
largest Jewish community tions demonstrate similar parked; a gendarme main-
Shalom Aleichem's in the Diaspora. In the last achievements: Jewish tains 24-hour surveillance.
Tevye for an audience 15 years, French Jewry has community centers, homes
We visited the Rue
that knows no Yiddish, absorbed hundreds of for the aged, summer camps Copernic Temple and Gol-
but listens through ear- thousands of Jews who fled and social agencies have denberg's restaurant in the
phones to simultaneous Algeria, Tunisia and grown and flourished to Jewish quarter which was
translation into Polish.
Morocco. Indeed, two out of meet the needs of a rapidly the site of a terrorist attack
When we visited Krakow, every three Jews in France expanding Jewish popula- in August. We noted the af-
firmative and undaunted
we met with Mrs. Maria arrived in this recent tion.
We noted the positions of spirit of French Jews. They
Yakobovitch, who con- period.
leadership held by Sephar- are not frightened by ter-
tinues her late husband's
The French Jewish dic Jews including the rorists. Having endured so
role of leadership for the
Krakow community. We community has re- young director of the FSJU, much, they have resolved to
learned that in all of Poland sponded with exemplary Dr. David Sauda and the continue to develop a com-
there was no rabbi, no can- skill and determination recently-named chief rabbi munity that combines loy-
tor, no shohet, no mohel, no to the challenge of integ- of France, Rabbi Rene alty to France, devotion to
Israel and solidarity with
teacher, no bakery that rating the original Samuel Sirat.
In our meeting with world Jewry.
made matzot for Pesach, no Ashkenazic group with
Shomer Shabat. In 20 years,
Poland will have no Jews.
"For Polish Jewry, this is
the time of Neila," Mrs.
Yakobovitch stated. Jews
hover between a past they
do not care to recall and a
future in which they have
no trust.
When we visited the syn-
agogue in Warsaw, we were
confronted by beggars, their
palms outstretched, asking
for alms. I remembered the
descriptions of Warsaw I
had heard as a boy and the
stories I had read. How
olk wisdom assumed that the
began in '79. and increased in its in-
painful to see that the mer-
events in the Middle East
tensity through '80 and '81. ADL's
chants did not survive, the
during . 1982 would unleash it IICW
annual catalog of incidents told a
laborers did not survive, the
WaVC of anti-Semitism in America.
rabbis did not survive, and
tragic story of psychological terrorism
the school children did not
Both Jews and concerned Christians
zincl material defilement. But,
survive. Only the beggars
Openly expressed their shared fears
perhaps, the tide has turned. 829
remain in what was once a
that the media treatment of Israel's
reportable incidents are still 829 too
vibrant center of Jewish
incursion into !Amnon would be
many, but it is good to know that the
translated into an increase in acts of
indicator on the chart is now turned
Auschwitz - Birkenau,
violence and vandalism against
downward for a change.
about two hours drive
from Krakow, is
Jewish institutions, which had
Heightened community awareness
preserved as a museum
already reached epidemic propor-
of-the problem has surely been par-
by the Polish govern-
tially responsible for this reversal of
ment. It is estimated that
It is most gratifying, therefbre, to
the trend. Citizens of all faiths have
between 1940 and 1945
note that these expectations have not
been shocked and shamed when these
the Nazis killed four mil-
been realized. To the contrary, for
kinds of activities have appeared in
lion people there, of
whom over three million
the first time in fOur years, these
their neighborhoods. The word has
were Jews. The exhibits
kinds of anti-Judaic incidents actually
gone out: This kind of behavior will
are so arranged and pre-
decreased last year.
riot be tolerated here.
sented that the unin-
The Anti-Defamation League of
Of equal importance, I believe, has
formed visitor is not
B'nai B'rith, the nation's most
been a significant improvement in
made aware that Si' -
diligent and authoritative watchdog
the quality of law enfOrcement in this
kenau was the death
in such matters, has just released its
important. area. Ninny police agen-
camp designated by the
Nazis for the extermina-
annual report showing a drop of
cies, which in the past tended to treat
tion of the majority of the
14.9% during 1982.
these matters as nothing more than
Jews of Europe.
The numbers fell from 974 in-
youthful pranks, are now giving thenr
The major monument has
cidents in 1981 to 829 in 1982. In-
the serious attention they deserve.
a memorial plaque in 18
in last year's tabulation were
Special units have been organized in
languages which proclaim,
three bombings and fourteen cases of
many departments to deal exclusively
"Four million people suf-
arson. It is still a sorry story, but at
fered at the hands of the
with this kind of anti-social acitivity.
Nazi murderers between
least it is a little less bad than the year
We haven't solved the problem,
1940 and 1945." The most
before; and it certainly indicates that
but we have reversed the trend.
fundamental truth is ig-
what so trimly feared did not
nored and denied. Gentiles
were killed because of what
The current cycle of swastika
(Don McEvoy is Senior Vice President of
they said or did. Jews were
stnearings, anti-Jewish grafitti, and
"The National Conference of Christians and
killed because of who they
were. The gas chambers and
desecration of synagogues,
Jews. 7he opinions expre. ■ sed are his own.)
crematoria were built and
cemeteries, and community centers

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