The way forward in Polish-Jewish relations

On Monday 18th November, Central Synagogue in partnership with the Polish Embassy and Poland Street presented a screening of ‘The History of the Kowalskis’ at the Polish Embassy.

The History of the Kowalskis (Poland, 2009) offers a reconstruction of life in Ciepielόw, central Poland, describing peaceful co-existence of the town’s Polish and Jewish communities before the Second World War, and the tragic events of December 1942 when the Kowalskis (a Polish family) were executed for protecting their Jewish neighbours.

His Excellency Ambassador Witold Sobkόw welcomed everyone to Embassy and the film screening after which Rabbi Marcus addressed the gathering on the topic of “The Way Forward in Polish-Jewish relations”. Here is a summarised transcript of the Rabbi’s words:

“I am honoured to be here with you this evening. Having seen the History of the Kowalskis recently, I found it both moving and informative.

The history of the Jews in Poland is a long one and has been a complex one, but I honestly believe in dialogue as being the way forward to deal with some of these complexities.

One needs to be very careful not to be influenced by preconceived notions and ignorance and rather focus on the positives. This DVD is an example of the positive that we should all be seeking and embracing.

Many people are unaware that in terms of saving people during the Holocaust, there were many more Polish people who have been recognised as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ than any other nation throughout Europe.

The Kowalksi family are an example of all that is good and courageous amongst people and this evening we need to acknowledge their sacrifice and the sacrifice of many other Polish people who gave up their lives to save Jewish people.”

The evening was very well attended by members of both the Polish and Jewish communities. Our thanks go to our partner organisations for making this event possible.

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