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Monday, April 12, 2010

Polish chief rabbi, Jewish leaders spared because they did not fly on the Sabbath

As most of you undoubtedly know already, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and much of the country's leadership was killed in a plane crash on Saturday near Smolensk, Russia. The plane was on its way to a ceremony commemorating the murder of some 20,000 Poles by Russian troops during World War II.

It turns out that the country's American-born chief rabbi and much of its Jewish leadership were scheduled to be on the flight, but canceled at the last minute because the flight was departing on the Sabbath.
A Jewish delegation from Poland, including the American-born Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, was spared from certain death by refusing to violate the Sabbath to fly with President Lech Kaczynski.


The Jewish delegation was supposed to fly with the president, according to Warsaw Rabbi Meir Stembler. “The delegation canceled its participation after it was understood that that plane was to fly on the Sabbath,” he said.

“They planned to say Kaddish [the mourner’s prayer] at the planned commemoration ceremony in a Russian city, marking 70 years since the Soviet murder of 20,000 Poles.

Rabbi Stembler said that President Kaczynski was personally responsible for helping with the construction of a Jewish museum in the location of the former Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and which is to be dedicated in the near future. President Kaczynski helped promote and encourage the building project when he was mayor of Warsaw and continued his efforts as president.

“The relation between the Jewish community and the president was very strong,” the rabbi said. “He took care of all of its needs, not just in words but also in deeds. There were not any major events where he did not honor the community with his presence.”
Polish President Lech Kaczynski was a true friend of the Jewish community and is being memorialized as such in both Israel and Poland. Of course, since he was not Jewish, there was no religious prohibition on his flying on the Sabbath. May his memory as a righteous gentile be blessed.


At 6:12 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Thank God for that. How much do you bet- not actually, that some antisemite will come up with a Jewish plot here?

My grandfather fled Polish pogroms and I have a fear for all Polish Jews.


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