• Shared Heritage

Begun in 2019, the „Shared Heritage” program, is a Forum initiative born out of a conviction that a real change in Polish/Jewish relations must include leaders of Polish Christian communities and entail a deep reflection on the shared heritage of history and religion that unites us.

“Shared heritage” is a phrase used repeatedly in “Nostra Aetate 4”, a document of Vatican II, to denote the connection between the Christians and Jews resulting from Christianity’s rootedness in Judaism. In the Polish context, we also consider the historical heritage of Jews and Christians who lived on this land side by side. This is a bittersweet history, and is remembered thus. The Holocaust is another level of the heritage we share because it happened on Polish land and was the experience of the today’s grandparents and great-grandparents’ generation. This is a difficult heritage, one that requires more processing and consideration on the level of faith.

The participants of the program face the complicated issues of the Judeo-Christian religious heritage, as well as the difficult co-existence of Jews and Christians in Poland, including the Holocaust, which have continuous impact on Polish/Jewish relations. Our program is an ecumenical space to learn about these issues and discuss ways of addressing the challenges of this heritage in our local communities and Poland overall.


The program is not only facts, but an insight into history from the perspective of the person, dignity, right to life, dreams. This difficult truth often moves you to the bone. It also fortifies your respect for the victims, calling evil for what it is, and refuses to excuse anyone. The process of forgiveness requires truth.

Michał Senk, Director of The Centre for the Thought of John Paul II in Warsaw

photo: M.Sokołowska

In 2019 we organized three seminars for 21 participants of the pilot edition of the Shared Heritage program: in Warsaw, Jerusalem, and Łódź. We’ve invited leaders from various Christian communities in Poland: lay activists, clergy, journalists, and scholars. The program was conceived of as a year-long process, which not only introduced the participants to the complexities of Christian/Jewish relations and a offered a  direct insight into the Jewish perspective on theological, historical, and social issues, but, more importantly, also made them sensitive to the need of raising these issues among the communities which they can impact.

The inaugural meeting in Warsaw focused on Polish and Jewish discourse on the Holocaust and the history of the Polish research of the Shoah. The participants considered how the memory of historical events that are difficult and oftentimes not fully understood translates into personal narratives.

During the weeklong stay in Israel the participants met with Yad Vashem Institute experts, including Professor Yehuda Bauer, to listed about prewar Jewish life in Poland, as well as the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust.

These meetings turned into deep discussions of historical, philosophical and theological issues, which incorporated both the Polish and Israeli narratives of the past. The program included also a study visit of Jerusalem, Shabbat dinners with members of the Kehillat Yedidya synagogue, and encounters which enabled the participants to glean the perspectives of Survivors or members of the second generation. This personal dimension of conversations enabled  a constructive confrontation of the official Polish and Israeli narratives about Polish/Jewish relations.

The program finished with a seminar in Łódź hosted by Łódź Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, and centered around the institutional approaches of Christian churches to Judaism since World War II till today. The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss, on the basis of knowledge gathered so far, the conditions of Christian/Jewish dialogue in Poland via a series of three questions guiding the entire program: where do we come from, where are we, and where are we going?

Conversations about the state of our mutual relations, addressing real problems gave me a sense of a real dialogue of Jews and Christian. It was an incredibly important experience for me, which allowed me to break through the superficiality of dialogue of handshakes that change nothing.

Anna Siemieniec, Coordinator of Day of Judaism in Catholic Church at the Edit Stein House in Wrocław


Due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic, in 2021 the program took on a new form. Aimed at reaching a broader audience with its interesting program, it took on a more accessible format.

The series of nine sessions entitled Shared Heritage: Conversations about Christian/Jewish Relations, gathered an audience of over 300 participants interested in the subject. We invited experts in this field from Poland and abroad to discuss the complexity of Christian/Jewish relations and the Jewish perspective on theological, historical, and social issues. Stanisław Krajewski, a philosopher and member of the Forum’s Scholarly Advisory Board, was the first speaker of the series with an introductory talk on Christian/Jewish dialogue. Rabbi David Rosen offered insight into the challenges of interfaith dialogue from a Jewish perspective. The conversation with rabbi Jeffrey Fox focused around the questions presented by the modern times, such as if a woman could be a rabbi, while Aliza Kline continued this theme with a presentation on making Jewish rituals relevant in the modern world.

All sessions that took place are available on Forum’s YouTube channel.

We believe strongly that a real change in Polish/Jewish relations must also involve the leaders of Christian communities. That is why we addressed a separate Shared Heritage educational offer to the students of the Theological Seminary in Łódź. In December, we co-hosted an online lecture by Amy-Jill Levine, a Professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, who discussed common mistakes in the Christian understanding of Judaism.

In 2021, the program is co-financed by the Dutch Humanitarian Fund and the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion.