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Jewish communal gathering in Warsaw fosters unity in face of adversity

The weekend, dubbed “Even Now, We Come Together,” also marked the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

A multi-city communal gathering in Warsaw demonstrated the strength and solidarity of the revived Polish Jewish community, as well as showed support for the State of Israel and missing hostages, over the weekend of Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
A multi-city communal gathering in Warsaw demonstrated the strength and solidarity of the revived Polish Jewish community, as well as showed support for the State of Israel and missing hostages, over the weekend of Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

In the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel and the subsequent surge in antisemitism worldwide, the Jewish community in Poland has come together in a groundbreaking show of unity and resilience hosted by Chabad of Poland. The multi-city communal gathering, which took place over the weekend of Nov. 11 in Warsaw, demonstrated the strength and solidarity of the revived Polish Jewish community.

The more than 200 members of Poland’s Jewish community hailed from Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, Lodz and other communities across Poland for the event. Members of the Ukrainian Jewish community now living in Poland also participated to show appreciation to Chabad of Poland and its community for their monumental efforts on their behalf since the war in their country began.

“It was so heartwarming and inspiring to come together at a time when many within the global Jewish community are feeling so alone in a world of growing antisemitism yet paradoxically watching as the Jewish community coalesces around itself,” said Chabad of Poland co-director Rabbi Mayer Stambler.

The weekend, dubbed “Even Now, We Come Together,” featured a roster of esteemed speakers. Among them was Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chabad of Poland director Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler, Chabad co-director Rabbi Mayer Stambler, alongside international speakers, including Israeli journalist Yedidya Meir and his wife, the Israeli television anchor Sivan Rahav Meir. The gathering also had the privilege of hosting Israel Defense Forces special operations veteran Amit Moshe, whose personal journey of finding faith after his military service deeply resonated with the audience. His spiritual music complemented the event’s uplifting atmosphere, emphasizing the power of faith and unity in times of adversity.

A multi-city communal gathering in Warsaw demonstrated the strength and solidarity of the revived Polish Jewish community over the weekend of Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

The 200 participants spending Shabbat together also marked a new record for Poland’s Jewish community—one of the first times since the Holocaust that so many Polish Jews spent the weekend learning and growing together since before World War II, when the country was home to more than 3.5 million Jews. Following the war, a little more than 380,000 of them remained alive, many of whom left the country or were forced to hide their faith in the ensuing years due to communism and the fear of antisemitism.

The Thursday and Friday leading into the event, Nov. 9-10, marked the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, largely seen as the beginning of the Holocaust.

“With everything going on in the world today, we felt it was integral that we, like Jewish communities across the globe, come together to support each other during a time where the global waves of antisemitism that we are watching play out in the news and on social media can make us feel alone,” said Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler.

The Jewish community first saw its revival in the post-Communist years through classes and community services offered by international Jewish philanthropies and through the work of Schudrich, who co-sponsored the weekend event in Warsaw.

In 2005, Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler and his wife, Rebbetzin Dina Stambler, were appointed the country’s Chabad emissaries, charged with opening a Jewish communal center to attract and support the spiritual growth of many of the Jews who lost their faith after the war, as well as others who grew up in the post-Holocaust era and lacked the spiritual and communal connections to the Jewish people. Today, those individuals, their children and their grandchildren make up a large and still growing group of committed participants in Jewish tradition with some even studying in international rabbinical seminaries.

Since the start of the Russian incursion into Ukraine, Chabad of Poland based in Warsaw has opened its doors to Ukraine’s Jewish community offering refuge, transportation, kosher food, medical aid, financial and material assistance, childcare, educational and social services, communal activities, and administrative and legal aid to tens of thousands displaced by the conflict. Since the start of the war, Chabad in Poland has seen its expenses rise by more than $2 million.

For more information or to contribute to relief efforts, visit: www.saveajew.org.

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