Polish City of Lodz Hosts First Jewish Festival in Decades

The festival in Lodz, where Jewish life all but disappeared during the Holocaust, draws inspiration from a similar string of celebrations throughout Europe

Cnaan Liphshiz
FILE Photo: The Polish city of Lodz where a once thriving Jewish community once lived.
FILE Photo: The Polish city of Lodz where a once thriving Jewish community once lived. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Krzysztof Belczyński
Cnaan Liphshiz

The city of Lodz, once a major Jewish hub in Poland, hosted its first Jewish festival in decades.

Hundreds attended the Festival of Tranquility last week in the central city over the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

Drawing on similar events in Krakow, Warsaw, Budapest and other cities throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the Lodz festival featured films, Torah study sessions, workshops in calligraphy and cooking, and a concert.

>> Read more: Despite anti-Semitism fears, Poland's Jews refuse to hide away

The event was organized by Rabbi Dawid Szychowski, the envoy of the Shavei Israel group from Israel, which facilitates the return to Judaism of descendants of Jews, among other activities.

Lodz, about 80 miles from Warsaw, was historically home to one of the country’s most vibrant Jewish communities – and one of the largest ghettos during the Holocaust. But Jewish life all but disappeared from there in 1944, according to Michael Freund, the founder of Shavei Israel.

Nearly all of the ghetto’s 164,000 residents were murdered in the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, along with 90 percent of Poland’s pre-Holocaust Jewish population of 3 million.

Many survivors hid their Jewish roots to the best of their ability, including from their children.

“Despite the fact that thousands of young Poles had parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents who had to hide their Jewish identity for decades, Judaism has witnessed a revival in Poland since the downfall of communism and we are happy that we can celebrate it,” Freund said.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid Is the Most Israeli of All

An El Al jet sits on the tarmac at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Thursday, in 2003.

El Al to Stop Flying to Toronto, Warsaw and Brussels

An anti-abortion protester holds a cross in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court Leaves a Barely United States

A young Zeschke during down time, while serving with the Wehrmacht in Scandinavia.

How a Spanish Beach Town Became a Haven for Nazis

Ayelet Shaked.

What's Ayelet Shaked's Next Move?

A Palestinian flag is taken down from a building by Israeli authorities after being put up by an advocacy group that promotes coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, in Ramat Gan, Israel earlier this month

Israel-Palestine Confederation: A Response to Eric Yoffie