KIELCE, Poland – Shabbat came to a Polish synagogue for the first time since the Holocaust.
Services were held Friday night and Saturday at the Kielce synagogue, which was reconstructed after World War II and since 1951 has been used as the district archives. A traditional Shabbat dinner, a guided walk through Jewish Kielce and a Havdalah ceremony were followed by a party.
Interfaith meetings were also part of the commemoration and included prayers in two Christian churches.
Some 25,000 Jews lived in Kielce before World War II; 20,000 were murdered by the Nazis. The town is infamous as the site of the last pogrom in Poland, a massacre of 42 Jews by a mob who attacked the Jewish community house more than a year after the war was over, on July 4, 1946.
The Kielce weekend was the latest in a series of Shabbaton programs in long-disused Polish synagogues organized by Michael Traison, an American lawyer who has an office in Warsaw. Earlier events took place in Pinczow, Piotrkow Trybunalski, Przemysl and Lublin.
Traison said he wanted to remember the destroyed communities, and to demonstrate that the Jewish people survived and thrived and still exist in Poland. He also wanted to bring together Poles and Jews, as well as “provide a Jewish religious experience for people who would like to participate in such an experience and enjoy a good Shabbat.”