Navigate to News section

This Week in Poland

Prisoners! A Hitler tree! A gay rabbi! Kibbutzniks!

by
Hadara Graubart
June 24, 2009
(AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

So much Jewish news in Poland lately!

First, a new program requires Polish prison inmates to take part in the rehabilitation of Jewish sites throughout the country. Hopefully this gig will be an improvement on whatever prisoners were forced to do before—otherwise the plan might be creating a new population of future ex-cons with a bone to pick against the Jews.

Meanwhile, in the latest attempt to repurpose something Nazi-related, the mayor of Jaslo, a southeastern Polish town, has decided to cut down a 67-year-old tree originally planted to mark Hitler’s birthday and replace it with a tree commemorating Polish soldiers killed by Soviet forces. It’s unclear whether honoring the dead by killing a tree is an act of vengeance or merely a misguided gesture.

And over in Warsaw, provocative Israeli film artist Yael Bartana has started construction on a mock kibbutz, as an attempt to “revive the Jewish spirit again.” (As opposed to the socialist spirit, which, presumably, is long past rekindling.) And elsewhere in town, a Reform synagogue has hired Poland’s first openly gay rabbi, Aaron Katz. The remarkable Katz has made quite an evolution, from a bearded Orthodox rabbi with a wife and kids in Sweden, to a clean-shaven man hosting dinner parties with his partner, Kevin Gleason, a convert and former reality-TV producer. Mazel tov!

And that’s all from Poland.

Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.

Become a Member of Tablet

Get access to exclusive conversations, our custom app, and special perks from our favorite Jewish artists, creators, and businesses. You’ll not only join our community of editors, writers, and friends—you’ll be helping us rebuild this broken world.