Facing a theology of place: 11-2-12
Mapping human beliefs: 11-5-12

Fighting antisemitism in Poland: 11-3/4-12

Modern (meaning since, say, World War I) Poland has a reputation as being antisemitic. In some ways it's deserved. In other ways it's unfair.

Never-againWhat's especially unfair is that at times Poland gets blamed for the six World War II death camps built within its borders. But the Poles didn't build them. The Germans did. And so far more than 6,000 Poles have been recognized as "Righteous Gentiles" for having saved Jews in the Holocaust.

At the other end of the spectrum, many Poles shed no tears when the Germans murdered about 90 percent of the nearly 3.5 million Jews living in Poland at the start of World War II. In this, they reflected modern antisemitism and its roots in theological anti-Judaism. (For my essay on anti-Judaism in Christian history, look under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.)

Today the picture of Christian-Jewish relations in Poland (the country about which Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and I wrote in They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust) is mixed. On the one hand, many Poles, especially among the younger generations, are well educated about the Holocaust and determined to remember it so as not to repeat it. On the other hand, there are prominent antisemitic voices in Poland, especially those heard on Radio Maryja.

Among the best news about all of this is the existence of a Catholic group based in Warsaw called "Never Again," which, this report says, is working hard on good Catholic-Jewish relations and good interfaith relations generally.

“Our goal is to promote multicultural understanding and to contribute to the development of a democratic civil society in Poland and the region,” Rafal Pankowski, a "Never Again" leader, is quoted as saying in the piece.

The land of Poland will forever be scarred with what Hitler's murderers did there (sometimes with the cooperation or at least silence of the Poles). But that doesn't mean that better Jewish-Christian relations aren't possible. And clearly "Never Again" intends to be part of the answer on how to make that happen.

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It looks as if a Democrat from Hawaii will become the first Hindu member of Congress. My guess is that in 50 years there will be a whole tossed salad there of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Sikhs, Buddhists and others but that the majority still will be made up of lawyers.


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