On July 13 Beit Polska’s newest congregation dedicated its synagogue in “Trojmiasto” (Tri-Cities) Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot. The chair of Beit Trojmiasto, Kasia Mazurkiewicz welcomed the community and told the story of the remarkable development of this tiny community of Progressive Jews against its illustrious history before World War II when the Free City of Danzig was home to prominent Progressive congregations. In a well attended ceremony that included affixing a mezuzah (parchment with Biblical verses) and escorting a Torah scroll and placing it in a new ark (cabinet) this tiny congregation marked the return of Progressive Judaism to Gdansk. Beit Polska, the umbrella organization of Progressive Jewish communities is affiliated with the World/European Union for Progressive Judaism. Mrs. Miriam Kramer from London addressed the gathering on behalf of the over one million members of the world-wide Progressive Jewish community.
Congregational president Mrs. Mazurkiewicz explained the process of Beit Trojmiasto’s acquiring a small apartment from the city of Gdansk. The members have cleaned, painted, and re-furbished the apartment themselves. The congregation named the synagogue Beit Haim Dov in honor of Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, executive director of Friends of Jewish Renewal in Poland the support group for Beit Polska.
Ari Homa, a founding member of the community acted as the master of ceremonies. The room was overflowing with mixture of congregants, tourists from an American group organized by Rabbi Beliak that visited Jewish and Polish historical sites of Poland. The group visited the revived Progressive Jewish communities in Poland including Beit Warszawa, Beit Bialystok, and Beit Lublin as well as memorial sites of Jadwebne and Auschwitz.
The media photographers and reporters who relayed their stories to Polish newspaper and TV media ringed the synagogue. A visiting teacher (rabbi) from Los Angeles Dr. Avi Havivi was greeted in Lublin the next day at one of his lectures by several people who watched the dedication of the synagogue on television.
There was singing and dancing as the Torah – the fountainhead of Jewish teachings – was escorted into the synagogue and placed into the ark. The ark was lovingly built by one of the community’s Gentile friends. Every part of the synagogue was patched and painted by the members of the community.
In a truly a transformative moment Beit Polska’s Chair, Piotr Stasiak proposed that there would be ten Beit Polska communities in the next few years. Mr. Stasiak went on to say “…that at present we have budget for only one rabbi for the entire country of Poland. Unlike the Orthodox rabbinate Beit Polska’s clergy are not sponsored by special funds. This is untenable, and we face the emergency need for funds to support the growing number of Polish speaking teachers and spiritual guides.”
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Video credit: Trojmiasto.pl