Sunday, May 28, 2006

diversity and poland?

last, spring, there was a jewish speaker from poland at a lunch forum given at msass (thats at cwru for those of you who dont know).

my mother's paternal family is polish, and they came over to cleveland in the early nineteen hundreds to keep my great-grandfather from being taken by the russian army to serve in siberia or the ukraine or fill in the blank with any other scary and cold russian wasteland (for that is what they did with jews in those days) so i was fascinated

unfortunatly i do not remember the speakers name, but she had written a book on being jewish in post-war poland, and it was shocking to hear that judiasm had become a "fad" in poland, and the speaker compared it to main stream white america's embracing of the hip-hop culture. i found this disconcerting, and highly distrusted this opinion, despite her experiences during her upbringing.

then i read this this evening, and i am reminded to never forget:

from yahoo: Poland's chief rabbi attacked in Warsaw By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer
20 minutes ago

KRAKOW, Poland - Poland's chief rabbi was punched and attacked with what appeared to be pepper spray in downtown Warsaw in what police said may have been an anti-Semitic attack
Michael Schudrich, a New Yorker who became Poland's chief rabbi in 2004, was heading to a Sabbath lunch Saturday near Warsaw's main synagogue with a group of people when a young man yelled out "Poland for Poles!"
"That's a well-known pre-World War II slogan which basically means 'Jews, get out of Poland,' and I didn't like hearing it. So I approached the gentleman to ask him why he said such things and his reaction was to punch me in the chest," Schudrich told The Associated Press.
"I was going to hit him back. But before I had a chance to hit him he sprayed me with some kind of spray — maybe pepper spray."
Schudrich said his eyes still burned from the spray but that he was otherwise uninjured. His attacker escaped.
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz called Schudrich to express his regrets and "declare that there is no place for anti-Semitism," government spokesman Konrad Ciesiolkiewicz told the news agency PAP.
The attack is "especially painful because it happened during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Poland, when the whole country is in prayer," Ciesiolkiewicz said.

Before World War II, Poland had a large Jewish community of about 3.5 million that was nearly wiped out in the Holocaust. Those who survived faced repression under communism, which ended in 1989. Today, the community is tiny.
The U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, visited Schudrich on Sunday to express his sympathy and solidarity.
"There is no place for bigotry and all who abhor such intolerance must join together to condemn it. We must work to prevent re-occurrences," Ashe told the AP. He also said he appreciated the "seriousness" with which Polish authorities were treating the attack.
Police appealed to the public for help in finding the assailant, believed to be about 25. They said they believed they were making headway.
"The fact that it happened just as the pope is visiting Poland and going to Auschwitz means the attack could have had an anti-Semitic motive, that it was meant to tarnish the image of Poland," Interior Ministry spokesman Tomasz Sklodowski said.
Schudrich was among Jewish religious leaders who said Kaddish, or the Jewish prayer for the dead, during a ceremony led by the pope at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau on Sunday.
Schudrich said he did not believe the attack was connected to the pope's visit. Instead he linked it to what he said was a rise of intolerance connected to a new governing coalition that includes the League of Polish Families, or LPR, a small right-wing party with ideological ties to a prewar anti-Semitic party and a radical youth wing.
"With the LPR in the government, ultra-rightists who felt somehow constrained in their behavior now feel they can do whatever they want," Schudrich said.

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