2005 March of the Living at Auschwitz Birkenau
Catholic friars to open Hebrew academy in Poland
(AFP) – 21 hours ago
WARSAW — Roman Catholic Franciscan friars are to open Poland's first privately-run Hebrew academy in October with the approval of the country's chief rabbi and a Polish cardinal, its rector said Tuesday.
"We've started recruiting and there's a lot of interest. We're thinking of accepting 45 students for a start," academy rector Father Maksymin Tandek told AFP.
"During my studies in Israel, I discovered its rich and beautiful history. Jews lived in Poland for a thousand years. My dream is to preserve the wealth and beauty of their society here," he said.
The three-year-long programme at the academy located in Torun, north-east Poland, will focus on Hebrew literature, linguistics, Israeli history, Poland's Jews, and modern, rabbinical and biblical Hebrew as well as Syrian and Aramaic.
"Polish archives and libraries contain a large number of documents with an an enormous wealth of Jewish thought, but now no one is examining them. We need specialists to catalogue them and make them public," Tandek said.
European Union funds will cover half of the operation costs of the academy, open to high school graduates. Students will have to pay 2,000 zloty (470 euros, 670 dollars) in tuition fees per semester, Tandek said.
The project has been endorsed by Poland's chief rabbi Michael Schudrich and Roman Catholic Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former private secretary of the late Polish-born pope John Paul II.
The academy is to be based in Torun, a university town of 200,000 residents, also home to Radio Maryja, a Catholic fundamentalist broadcaster run by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk criticised for nationalist and anti-Semitic programming.
The Hebrew academy is one of several recent moves aimed at reviving Poland's Jewish heritage obliterated by the Holocaust.
Construction began in June on the long-awaited Museum of the History of Polish Jews in the capital Warsaw. The multi-million dollar, multi-media facility is expected to open its doors in 2011.
The museum's virtual arm -- the "Virtual Shtetl" web portal also launched in June -- is aimed at giving it a head start online.
Prior to World War II, Poland was home to some 3.5 million Jews, roughly 10 percent of its pre-war population with nearly a millennium of Jewish settlement within its borders.
Some three million Polish Jews perished in the Holocaust which claimed six million of pre-WWII Europe's estimated 11 million Jews.
The article does not mention the number of Jews currently living in Poland, which can range from 100,000 to less than 20,000.
Just wondering this comm's opinion as sometimes the news of Poland that reaches here isn't always very positive. This does seem to be a step in the right direct in showing that Poland's Jewish history is about more than just death.