- Top Polish leaders celebrated Hanukkah in parliament on Thursday, along with members of the Jewish community.
- The celebration serves as a show of solidarity after far-right MP Gregor Brown made international headlines for blowing out the candles of the parliamentary menorah with a fire extinguisher.
- “This is the true face of Poland,” said Rabbi Michael Schudrich. “We are all in this together.”
Top Polish leaders joined members of the Jewish community in celebrating Hanukkah in parliament on Thursday after a far-right lawmaker used a fire extinguisher to extinguish burning candles on a menorah earlier this week.
The presence of the president, the speaker of parliament and other top legislative officials sent a message that there is no tolerance in Poland for the kind of anti-Semitic behavior that erupted in the halls of parliament on Tuesday, shocking the country and drawing widespread condemnation across the political spectrum. . A woman was injured in the incident and was still in hospital two days later.
Chabad Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler, who organized the Hanukkah event in parliament for the 17th consecutive year, said: “We will dispel darkness through light, and we are fortunate that a little light can dispel a lot of darkness.”
FAR-RIGHT POLISH LEGISLATOR BRINGS MENORAH WITH FIRE EXTINGUISHER
President Andrzej Duda stood next to a large menorah as parliament speaker Szymon Holownia lit a candle, with members of the Jewish community lighting others on the eighth and final night of the Jewish festival of lights.
Duda and Holownia are among the highest leaders in Poland. The other top leader, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, was in Brussels for a European Union summit. He also strongly denounced the previous anti-Semitic incident.
“This is the true face of Poland,” said the country’s US-born chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich. “We are all in this together.”
Grzegorz Braun is a far-right lawmaker who is considered one of the most controversial officials in Poland. On Tuesday he grabbed a red fire extinguisher and snuffed out the candles on a menorah lit for Hanukkah, sparking uproar and scandal as a new pro-European government took office. A member of the Jewish community tried to stop him and he responded by spraying her with the fire extinguisher chemical.
Brown, a member of the Confederation party, has in the past falsely claimed that there is a conspiracy to turn Poland into a “Jewish state”. In May, he violently interrupted a lecture by Holocaust scholar Jan Grabowski at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw. He grabbed the historian’s microphone and slammed it against the lectern before walking over to a loudspeaker, knocking it over and knocking it over.
He was barred from entering the parliament building on Thursday.
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Poland was once home to a large Jewish community numbering nearly 3.5 million on the eve of the Holocaust. Almost all of Poland’s Jews were murdered by the Nazi German forces that occupied Poland in World War II.