Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Polish Jewish community chooses an American as its new chief rabbi

By Carolyn Slutsky

WARSAW, Dec. 13 (JTA) -- The Polish Jewish community has turned to an American as its new spiritual leader, filling a post left empty since 1999.

The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland appointed New York-born Michael Schudrich as chief rabbi of Poland late last week.

Schudrich would become the first person to hold Poland's top rabbinic position since the resignation of Menachem Joskowicz some five years ago.

Asked about the significance of an American rabbi assuming Poland's highest title, Piotr Kadlcik, the union's acting president, expressed no reservations.

"We have no Polish rabbis now, though we hope within two years to graduate two rabbis from the yeshiva," he told JTA. "We've known Rabbi Schudrich for years, and he knows Poland."

Schudrich, an energetic, bearded man with a perpetual smile, first came to Poland in 1973 as part of a United Synagogue Youth program that traveled throughout what was then Communist Eastern Europe.


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