(April 12, 2019 / JNS) The Jerusalem-based organization Shavei Israel shipped two tons of matzah from Israel this week, consisting of 1,692 boxes of Matzot Aviv, 45 boxes of handmade shmurah (“guarded”) matzah and 90 boxes of specially machine-made special shmurah matzah, announced Shavei Israel in a statement on Thursday.
Because matzah-baking requires stringent oversight that Poland’s Jewish community is too small to provide, they rely on imported matzah for Passover, which begins at sundown on April 19.
After being approached by Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, Shavei Israel chairman Michael Freund agreed to sponsor the purchase and shipment of matzah from Israel, which will be distributed to nearly a dozen Jewish communities throughout Poland, including Warsaw, Lodz, Lublin and Katowice.
About 10 percent, or roughly 350,000, out of 3.3 million Polish Jews survived the Holocaust.
An estimated 4,000 Jews lives in Poland now, though experts suggest that there may be tens of thousands more throughout the country who, to this day, are either hiding their identities or are simply unaware of their family heritage. In recent years, a growing number of so-called “Hidden Jews” have begun to return to Judaism and to the Jewish people.
Shavei Israel has been active in the country for more a decade, working closely with Schudrich and the Jewish community.
The matzah will be used at communal Passover seders across Poland and be given out for free to needy, elderly and home-bound Jews, many of whom are Holocaust survivors.
“We are extremely grateful to Shavei Israel and Michael Freund, who have helped us continuously for many years in Jewish education, for this generous gift,” said Monika Krawczyk, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.
“Nearly 75 years after the Germans annihilated more than 90 percent of Polish Jewry, thousands of Jews throughout Poland will gather this year to celebrate Passover and eat matzah, which symbolizes deliverance and determination,” said Shavei Israel founder and chairman Michael Freund. “We owe it to the Jews of Poland and to the growing number of Poles who are discovering their Jewish roots to reach out to them and help them.”