The prayer of the rabbi and bishops at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, the Liturgy of the word with comments by the rabbi and the bishop, and a concert of Jewish music – these are the most important points of the celebration of the 24th Judaism Day in the Catholic Church in Poland, which took place on January 17.
The celebration began with a prayer of Jews and Catholics at one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world, which is the Warsaw cemetery in the Bródno district, where approx. 320 thousand people are buried. Psalm 130 was read in Polish by Bishop Romuald Kamiński, Bishop of Warsaw-Prague, and later sang in Hebrew by Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland. Then there was a silent prayer.
As every year, there was a common Liturgy of the Word with comments from the Jewish and Catholic sides. They were based on a reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, from which the motto of this year’s celebration was taken: „Life and death. I have today set before you life and prosperity, death and doom”.
Rabbi Stas Wojciechowski noted that this fragment of the Bible is read in the occasion of the Jewish New Year, which is a time to summarize how we used our freedom, whether we chose life or death. The rabbi emphasized that in the synagogue liturgy these words should be interpreted in the context of conversion, i.e. as long as a person is alive, he can convert.
Bishop Romulad Kamiński, in whose diocese is the central celebration of the Day of Judaism, emphasized that the slogan of that day corresponds to the current pandemic situation, when we often talk about life and death. He stressed that listening to God’s Word is a privilege, but the question arises: am I listening to God speaking to me? Does he have a chance to reach me today with his word? – asked Bishop Kaminski.
Father Wiesław Dawidowski, member of the Committee of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for Dialogue with Judaism, emphasized that the classic Christian text from the beginning of the second century known as the Didache or the „Teaching of the 12 Apostles” begins with the words: „There are two ways. One way of life and the other way of death”. They harmonize with what Moses said. Father Dawidowski also drew attention to the difficult common Christian-Jewish history.
The celebration of the Day of Judaism ended with a concert of Jewish music entitled „For my brothers and sisters” by Symcha Keller’s band. Musical pieces were interwoven with stories about the life of old and contemporary Polish Jews.
Bishop Rafał Markowski, Chairman of the Committee of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for Dialogue with Judaism, announced that next year, the 25th Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland will be in Poznań. There will be honored those who over the years in the Episcopate did a lot for Catholic-Jewish dialogue: Archbishop Henryk Muszyński, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Bishop Mieczysław Cisło.
The Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland is organized on the initiative of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and is aimed at interreligious dialogue and helping to discover the roots of Christianity. Apart from the central celebrations, there are local programs in dioceses all over Poland.
Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference