There is increasing division between Orthodox and progressive Jews in Poland over the matter of who will represent the Jewish community in the country, according to the Jerusalem Report (February 25).
The magazine reports that there is an “internecine battle for power and prestige—and the vast control of funds” between the Polish Orthodox community represented by Twarda (named for the street the organization is located on in Warsaw) and Beit Polska of the progressive Jewish community, writes Nissan Tzur. In 2008 Beit Polska requested and received from the Polish Interior Ministry recognition as the umbrella organization of progressive Jews. In response, the Union of Jewish Religious Communities, which was until then the only Jewish community recognized by the Polish government, appealed to have the decision overturned, claiming that by law it had the monopoly as the umbrella organization for all Jewish groups in Poland.
Twarda claimed that the union also represented the progressive stream of Judaism and demanded to be a part of the Beit Polska’s registration. For its part, Beit Polska and its founder Severyn Ashkenazy charge that Twarda’s leaders are concerned about having to share the government subsidies it receives with the progressive community. Ashkenazy adds that the Orthodox community has been selling off assets from abandoned Jewish properties that have been transferred to the Jewish community by the government and there is little transparency about where this money has gone.
To complicate the situation even more, Twarda recently formed a new progressive congregation to show that both streams of Judaism can coexist. Beit Polska claims that the move is merely a façade and that the real issue is Twarda’s opposition to Jewish pluralism and its desire to maintain its monopoly. There have been attempts to settle the dispute by outside Jewish leaders, but little progress has been made.
(Jerusalem Report, http://thejerusalemreport.wordpress.com/)