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Largest gathering of rabbis in Poland since WWII


Conference of European Rabbis in Poland

Hundreds of rabbis from across Europe have gathered in Warsaw to attend the Conference of European Rabbis' (CER) biannual meeting, taking place between October 31 and November 2. The event marks the largest gathering of Jewish leaders in Poland since the Second World War.

The conference focuses on the defense of Jewish rights and tolerance in Europe, in particular on the recent ban by the Dutch parliament of shechita, or kosher animal slaughter. (The ban also included Muslim halaal animal slaughter.)

The CER has slammed the decision, arguing that it infringes on freedom of religion. CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt has said his organization would not rest “until this discriminatory, intolerant and hateful bill” was overruled.

“The practical effects of this bill mean that Jews are no longer welcome in the Netherlands. This has not happened for 70 years,” Rabbi Goldschmidt said when the bill was passed in June.

In Warsaw, Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, said that the last time when shechita was banned in Europe was under the Nazi occupation. “Although no one's claiming that Holland is Nazi, it certainly does trigger in us very bad memories,” he was quoted by AFP as saying.

President Bronisław Komorowski, who met CER representatives on Monday, said that respect for religious traditions must apply to many different fields, and that a similar law prohibiting ritual slaughter, with very questionable justification, was enacted in Poland prior to World War II.

Speaking to President Komorowski on behalf of the convention, Rabbi Schudrich said he was glad that the conference was held in Warsaw, which is deeply connected with Jewish history, and that Poland could serve as a model for Europe on relations with the Jewish community.

He added that over the past few years and particularly in the old EU countries, the Jewish community observed a mounting identity crisis and a corresponding increase in intolerance.

Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community before the war, numbering nearly 3.5 million. Most were murdered in ghettos and death camps that Germany built after invading and occupying Poland in 1939.

"The convention ... is a testament to the resurgence of the remarkable Jewish community in Poland which was all but wiped out during the Holocaust, having previously been the epicenter of the Jewish world," the conference statement said.

 the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland
the Nozyk Synagogue in Warsaw, Poland

Yona Metzger
Israel's chief Ashkenazi rabbi Yona Metzger
Gabriel Mirilashvili
Gabriel Mirilashvili, President of Georgian Jews World Congress & Israel's chief Ashkenazi rabbi Yona Metzger

Gabriel Mirilashvili
Gabriel Mirilashvili
Gabriel Mirilashvili
Gabriel Mirilashvili
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President CER (Conference of European Rabbis) & Gabriel Mirilashvili, President of Georgian Jews World Congress

Gabriel Mirilashvili
Gabriel Mirilashvili
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President CER (Conference of European Rabbis) & Gabriel Mirilashvili, President of Georgian Jews World Congress

Gabriel Mirilashvili
Conference participants tour the Warsaw Ghetto

Gabriel Mirilashvili
Gabriel Mirilashvili


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