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“What a wonderful visit to Israel and what wonderful people. The trip was truly ecumenical and interfaith … Despite my recent crisis regarding the church, I now feel thoroughly immersed in Christianity. A Christianity not based on dogma or clericalism, but one based on encountering and experiencing,” said one of the participants of Forum’s unique Shared Heritage program addressed to leaders of Polish Christian community. The intense study visit to Israel was a key element of a program launched in March 2019 and co-organized with the Yad Vashem. The purpose of the program is to ensure that the people who impact religious discourse in Poland are educated and sensitive to the history and heritage of Jews in Poland.

During their intense week-long stay, the participants met with Yad Vashem experts to discuss pre-war Jewish life in Poland, the history of antisemitism, and the Holocaust. These meetings led to meaningful discussions interweaving history, philosophy, and Christian theology. Importantly, these discussions took into account and exposed the different narratives about the past present in Poland and Israel.

The participants could listen to personal stories, such as the one told by professor Yoram Diamant, who talked about his Holocaust childhood, which inspired him to educate others about the atrocity. Taly Gazit, Tami Gutman, and Sara Minash reflected on what does it really mean to be part of the Second Generation. Finally, the highlight of the program occured during the Shabbat at the Kehillat Yedidya synagogue. After the service the community members invited the visit participants to share with them their evening meal. In an intimate and familial atmosphere a genuine connection could form, which paved the way for a discussion of the most painful, but also most important issues.

photos by M.Sokołowska