Poland's Chief Rabbi Victim of anti-Semitic Attack

KRAKOW ? Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, was attacked Saturday on a Warsaw street following Sabbath services in the Warsaw synagogue.

As Schudrich was walking with companions, a young man, around 25 years old, approached him, shouting "Poland for the Poles." When Schudrich asked the young man what he meant, he punched the rabbi in the chest and sprayed him with an unknown substance.

Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz telephoned Schudrich after he was informed of the attack and said that the Polish government would not allow such incidents on its soil. The Warsaw police released a statement saying that they "were taking the complaint seriously."

Israel's ambassador to Poland, David Peleg, told Haaretz that although the attack on Schudrich was an isolated incident and sweeping conclusions should not be drawn from it, it was nevertheless very disturbing, particularly in light of the fact that four members of the local Jewish community had recently received anti-Semitic threats.

Schudrich, who held a joint prayer service with Pope Benedict yesterday at Auschwitz, said: "This incident is very nasty, but let's not let it undermine the great importance of today's event."

Poland's Jewish community, which numbers between 10,000 and 20,000 people, has expressed concern recently over the fact that the League of Polish Families, a nationalist party with an anti-Semitic bent, has joined the new Polish government. The head of the party, Roman Giertych, has been made education minister and deputy prime minister.