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icjw president visits czulent in krakow

ICJW's President Robyn Lenn was hosted in Krakow by the new local affiliate  president Anna Makówka and members of   CZULENT Jewish Association.  

I began my visit to ICJW's Polish affiliate by meeting several members of the organisation in their premises in Kraków on the evening I arrived. It was November 9, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, and we marked the commemoration with a short ceremony in which each of us lit a candle.  

Czulent Jewish Association was formed in 2004,  with its aim being to preserve Jewish identity in Poland. Within the CZULENT premises I was shown rooms which the members have set up for specific use,   such as the Remoh Jewish Library, opened in 2005.   Its collection of Polish, English, Hebrew and Yiddish books cover many topics.

A brightly painted room is used for the Sunday school which opened in 2014 and now teaches forty children. The Kraków Chabad rabbi teaches the children.  

CZULENT has a strong social awareness program which includes educating   against antisemitism and homophobia, while promoting human rights, gender equality and intercultural relations.  

CZULENT's members are very committed and loyal, one member   who lives in Warsaw travelled to Kraków particularly to meet me and  to show me around Jewish Kraków. I learnt that CZULENT members remain part of this organisation even when they move to other cities or even other countries.

Last year, when CZULENT became an affiliate of ICJW, we   supported their project “Antisemitism Is Not An Opinion!” with a small grant. This assisting  them in the publication of Polish school books on this topic.  

Several members of CZULENT, all young women plus two husbands, supervised my visit to Kraków.   I was introduced to the two rabbis resident in Krakó: Rabbi Eliezer Gurary , the rabbi of Chabad Lubavitcher, Kraków,   and Rabbi Tanya Segal, rabbi of Beit Kraków, the Progressive congregation . Rabbi Gurary drove me to see the Chabad educational premises as well as informing me about the C16 synagogue in which he works. Rabbi Segal invited me to enter   the large   Progressive (Temple ) synagogue .   I learnt something about Jewish life in Kraków; approximately 500 Jews are active in the Jewish community but there are probably many more Jews in the city.  

In my discussions with both rabbis, I spoke about the work of ICJW, its values, objectives   and aspirations, its important NGO representation, and its strong affiliate membership.  

I enjoyed the opportunity of exploring   Jewish Kraków,  where my walks were conducted by four knowledgeable CZULENT members. I visited   three old synagogues, dating back five hundred years,  and saw three Jewish exhibitions and bookshops. I had dinner with some members at the Klezmer restaurant with delightful live Klezmer music.

The following night, together with three CZULENT members, I attended the orthodox Friday night Shabbat service in the Remoh synagogue, followed by Shabbat dinner in a nearby building. The dinner was hosted by the Kraków Jewish Community and I took the opportunity of introducing myself to its president.  

Most importantly,   CZULENT's   president and two of its members took me to Auschwitz, where an excellent English-speaking guide guided us   for three hours   around the large area of the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.   This was a heartrending experience which I will never forget.  

I was pleased to visit ICJWs Polish affiliate CZULENT. Its work in the small Jewish community in Kraków has succeeded in making a real difference. ICJW is proud to count CZULENT among its valued   affiliate organisations.