February 13, 2015 a group of people gathered for Shabbat in Lublin. Friday evening began with a musical service featuring elements of Welcoming the Shabbat (Kabbalat Shabbat) and the Evening Service ( Maariv). Piotr Mirski started with short medley of Shabbat songs including a few Yiddish and the classic Hineh Ma Tov (How Good It Is for Brothers and Sister To Dwell Together).
For the majority attending a Shabbat dinner, sing along, and philosophical lecture was a first time experience. The service was part traditional service and part concert. The introduction of Shabbat songs allowed for brief explanations of the Shabbat service. While most of the people had never been to a service before, those who knew the prayers were actively involved in services.
Following the service, Kiddush, and hamotzi guests enjoyed Challah, humus, tahini, a couple of vegetarian dishes, and salads prepared by an Israeli studying at the Lublin University who was assisted by a couple volunteers. Community organizer, Dariusz Szajnert reported that everyone had a good experience, enjoyed hearing Hebrew prayers and expressed a desire to come again. There is a service planned for March and April. Several people wanted to learn more about Judaism, a few others asked if they could take copies of the service home to read.
Dariusz Szajnert has been working in Poznan, Poland with Beit Polska as an outreach coordinator. In addition, Dariusz has visited Katowice, Wroclaw, Torun, Gdansk and of course, Beit Warszawa. We are fortunate to have Dariusz because he is a trained social worker, fluent in Polish, Jewishly informed. Prior to graduate school, Dariusz taught Jewish history at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina. Dariusz took on the job of editing videos from the Step by Step class as well as teaching a number of the classes.
Piotr Mirski is completing his doctorate in Lublin in Polish Jewish and non-Jewish thought reflecting on the memory of the Holocaust and the contemporaneous experiences of Poles during World War II. Each Progressive Shabbat evening in Lublin finds Piotr busying himself with many tasks. In addition to being the musical impresario, Piotr Mirski prepares a half hour lecture on a key Jewish philosopher or a philosophical problem. In February, a dozen of the 25 people stayed for a discussion on Mordechai Kaplan after the Oneg! Mirski is an accomplished musician and composer. When former Israeli Tsvi Ravner heard one of Mirski’s compositions based a saying from Pirke Avot, he couldn’t stop praising him. Ravner added: “I never imagined that I would hear in Hebrew and Polish new music of this quality.” Piotr Mirski studied at the Paideia Institute in Sweden and completed two years of training with Beit Polska for certification as a lay cantor.
Our Friday evenings begin with a musical service – an abbreviated version of a reform Maariv.
Among our guests are Jews, Israelis – who study in Lublin, people of Jewish origin, those interested in Judaism, conversion and/or Jewish culture. On our first Sabbath this year we gathered a group of 25 people. Every event takes place at Frutti di Mare – an independent center of culture.
We aim to develop the form of the event and start the conversion course in Lublin.
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