January 24, 2008
Conference tackles thorny Jewish-Polish relationship
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Another non-Jewish Ãï¿½(c)migrÃï¿½(c) from Poland was Beverly Hills resident Wanda Presburger, who is raising money to build the new Museum of the History of the Jewish People in Warsaw. "I want the museum to exist, and I want to be proud of it," she said.
A few people voiced their opinions when questions were opened up to the general audience. "All we are talking about is the past. What about the future?" one woman exclaimed. A man shouted out, "Poland killed over three and a half million Jews."
A main theme running through the conference was the need to talk honestly about the past in order to move into the future. Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, Poland's undersecretary of the state, said, "We represent the new, free Poland, but we are talking about the past, openly."
The current relationship between Poland and Israel was also emphasized.
"The two countries hated each other, [but] we now call Israel our strategic partner and Israel calls us their best friend in Europe," said Maciej Kozlowski, deputy director of the Department of Africa and Middle East in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
David Peleg, Israel's ambassador to Poland, mentioned the defense cooperation of the two countries. "Poland is very much present in the Middle East, and Israel has done whatever it could to share its experience on the battlefield with the Polish army."
Post-conference, the American Jewish Committee sponsored a lunch featuring highlights of the two days. The speakers emphasized the uniqueness and collegiality of the event, and UCLA's Myers announced that conference papers would be published and that a future conference would be planned.
"This was not a conference about guilt. There was no blaming. There was no competition for pain," said Poland's official Junczyk-Ziomecka. "We will meet next time not in Jerusalem, but in Warsaw."
This moving example of "chazanut" was recently recorded in an old synagogue in the small Polish village of Tiktin.
The cantor is Zvi Slonim and the camerman sings along too!
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