The Jews continue to be the chosen nation. The synagogue in Siedlce is a reminder of this

Tzadik of Żmigród Halbersztand surrounded by his secretaries during his stay in the spa town of Truskawiec Zdrój, 1929. Photo: NAC/IKC, Ref. no.: 1-R-1021

What synagogue? After all, there is no synagogue in Siedlce anymore! Well, that's right, and yet there was one, beautiful and even called great - but it burned down on Christmas Eve 1939, no doubt not coincidentally on that night of the Nativity of Christ, whom the German "master race" wanted to eliminate from civilisation.A1

The synagogue is no longer there, so the prayer marking the beginning of the Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland - and this year Siedlce is the venue for the main meeting - will begin on the morning of 17 January at 4 Berka Joselewicza Street, at the monument commemorating the extermination of 17,000 Polish citizens of Jewish origin, though not even necessarily of Jewish faith. The site of the former synagogue has been left empty.

Prayer at a place commemorating the presence of the Jewish community is a regular feature of every Day of Judaism, which has been present in our Catholic life since 1998. Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, recently chairman of the Episcopal Committee for Dialogue with Judaism, pointed this out, writing: "On this day, let us also remember the Holocaust, which was an attempt to annihilate the Chosen Nation".

The recently deceased Pope Benedict XVI constantly reminded us of this, from the very first days of his pontificate. He spoke about it both during his first visit to his homeland - in Cologne, on the occasion of World Youth Day, immediately in 2005 - and later, not only in Germany. However, it is worth recalling a few words from his meeting with the Jewish community, which took place during his subsequent stay in Germany (2011). It took place in the Reichstag, and the Pope said then that he was speaking in the place where "the Shoah, the annihilation of fellow Jews in Europe, was planned and organised". He pointed out that "the National Socialist regime of terror was built on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ, and of the people who believe in Him".

- "Almighty" Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol who wanted to be a substitute for God, the Creator and Father of all men. Along with the refusal to respect the one God, respect for human dignity is also lost. The terrible images from the concentration camps showed what a man who rejects God is capable of and what face a nation can take on when it says "no" to such a God, Benedict XVI stressed (quoted after a dispatch from the Catholic News Agency, KAI).

Read the entire article in TVP Weekly.

By Barbara Sułek-Kowalska
Translated by Tomasz Krzyżanowski