Decency? Caring for Jews and Judaism
I was in Krakow on Monday, June 23, 2014.The situation in Krakow is terrible. It is part of a system that lacks accountability for Jewish life that is not only in Krakow but in Warsaw, too. There are few heroes or even decent actors in the Krakow situation or any where else in Poland. The major exception is the American born director of the Jewish Community Center, Jonathan Ornstein. Ornstein’s work stands in stark contrast to almost every other institution in Krakow. It is the model of what the community should be striving to achieve.
In Krakow, a Chabad racist was appointed “chief rabbi” by the Jacubowicz family, while a popular settler zealot representing Shavei Israel, its funder Michael Freund and “chief” Rabbi Michael Schudrich holds forth as a rival. JTA reporter Cnaan Liphshitz only asks about the motives of the Jacubowicz family and its seizure of control over Krakow properties; the cruel xenophobic and self-serving limiting of community membership by a Chabad rabbi and the hostility to the genuine yearning for Jewish learning and life expressed by so many so-called community leaders unless it comes in an orthodox package. Where was Cnaan Liphshitz and the JTA when last year’s famous expose by investigative reporters Wojtek Surmacz and Nissan Tsur published their September 2013 Forbes Poland story Kaddish for a Million Bucks?
Lets also ask about the actors from Warsaw’s Union of Orthodox Congregations known as Twarda street? How have they sought to direct funds from the sale of properties? Have the demanded audits over funds flowing into the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Culture led by Monika Krawchyk and Piotr Kadlicik been carried out?
Attempts by Warsaw’s young Turks to wrest control of the community from the old guard are still not resolved and there is little assurance from their leadership that they want an era of cooperation and openness, at least a détente.
Poland Defends Jews’ Right to Religious Freedom
On July 2, 2014 Poland’s judicial system was asked to uphold religious freedom and diversity for its historic Progressive Jewish community (founded 1803 and re-founded 1995). The Warsaw based Union of Orthodox Jewish communities (known as Twarda) and led by American “Chief Rabbi of Poland” Rabbi Michael Schudrich has asked a Polish court to revoke the right of Progressive Jews (in American terms – reform and conservative) to have their own religious life. The young Turks have not dropped their attempt to strangle Progressive Judaism. Their suit contradicts the guarantees of religious freedom in the Polish constitution.
Gathered under the umbrella of the nearly two million Jews belonging to the World/European Union for Progressive Judaism’s Polish organization, Beit Polska, nine small communities are the target of a massively funded legal attack. The Polish government’s Ministry of the Interior, who registered the Progressive Jewish group in 2008 is defending Jewish diversity and religious freedom against “so-called” Orthodox Jewish believers! This is not about doctrine but about control of the proceeds from the sale of pre-World War II properties that remain unaccounted for. Will the organized Jewish communities in the world ignore what is happening here in Poland? If history is any guide, probably not, they will accuse those people seeking decency, of being anti-semites. Those who are seeking proper accounting and audits will be accused of anti-semitism!
Or, perhaps the Jewish communities around the world will demand dignity and decency!