WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Polish President Andrzej Duda met with representatives of the country’s Jewish community, ahead of an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Duda, during his meeting with Jewish officials on Thursday explained that this year there was no traditional Chanukah meeting at the presidential palace because Chanukah coincided with Christmas. The president said that since 1989 and the fall of communism, Poland has worked to develop Jewish culture and that now many people in Poland are interested in it. Duda said that Jews have made a large contribution to Polish culture, science and Polish independence.
Referring to Poland as the Republic of Friends, President of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities Leslaw Piszewski said that Poland “has a chance to be an example for other nations.”
The meeting was attended by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich; chairman of Jewish Social-Cultural Association in Poland, Artur Hofman; Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari; the head of From the Depths foundation Jonny Daniels; and leaders of other Jewish organizations.
Duda and his wife will travel to Israel on Monday. On Tuesday, the Polish president will meet in Jerusalem with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, then he will visit Yad Vashem and the Western Wall. In the evening, he will present the highest Polish decorations, the Order of the White Eagle, to Shevah Weiss, former chair of the Knesset and the Israeli Ambassador to Poland. On Wednesday Duda will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.