The Future of Judaism: Eight Lessons from our Polish Brothers & Sisters

By: Courtney Cardin, Bradley Caro Cook, Magda Dorosz, Eyal Halamish, Yona Abeddour, Sam Heller, Sandra Jerusalmi, Michal Kabatznik, Meggan Levene, Shimon G. Levy, Nicolas Nemni, and Vital Zinger

In July 2019, a delegation of Schusterman ROI community members embarked upon a Journey through Poland. This is what we want the world to know.

There is, perhaps, no greater example of resilient diaspora Jewish life than Polish Jewry. For centuries, Poland was a battleground where forces from the east and west would clash in their quest for power and domination. For centuries, Polish lands were carved up and divided amongst the most powerful forces in the east and west. Both Jewish and non-Jewish Poles were caught in the middle of the key battleground of Europe for centuries, with little opportunity to define their own narrative. Yet, Poland, and Jewish life in Poland endured.

Today, Poland is a beacon for Jewish life and renewal. As Jewish institutions in North America, and around the world, struggle to engage the next generation of Jews, Polish Jewry is experiencing a resurgence and unparalleled growth among millennial Europeans who are redefining what it means to be Jewish in 21st century Europe.

Meeting the Polish Jewish community of today completely shifted my perspective on Poland. Meeting individuals and getting to know Jewish communal organizations that are active today showed that life survives – Jewish life survives. There seems to be an inexplicable pull towards Judaism, which draws people in, and makes them want to learn more about the heritage and culture. I now feel it is my responsibility to help share the message of the Polish Jewish community. Poland is not the ‘graveyard of the Jews,’ but rather a vibrant and growing Jewish community that just wants to be connected to us – the greater Jewish world. (…)

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