By Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Introduction by Judy Manelis
Kulanu Magazine, Spring 2013
Poland is the birthplace or origin of many of North America’s Jews. Some scholars even believe that 70-80% of American Jews have roots in Poland. Certainly, we know that the great intellectual and religious movements of Zionism and Hassidism flourished on Polish soil. In fact, Polish lands were once a place where Jews survived and even prospered. Of course, this was all pre-Holocaust.
Today, most Jewish tourists to Poland come on memorial visits… to cemeteries, to former shtetls (small Jewish villages) empty of Jewish residents, to the streets where the Warsaw Ghetto once stood or to Auschwitz to see the barracks, and crematoria and say Kaddish (prayer for the dead). These visitors are only vaguely aware that there are more than just memorials in Poland. I am writing this article to report that there is a miraculous and heartwarming revival of Jewish life now underway.
The surprising story of individual Jews and small communities, who are finding their way back to Judaism in the geographic heart of the Holocaust, is a testament to Jewish survival and Jewish spiritual endurance. Hopefully, in the future, visitors will not only visit sites connected to the Holocaust, but will visit a small but determined Jewish community just now emerging. Continue reading.