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First Jewish School in Over 25 Years Opens in Poland

April 14, 1994

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Patiently lining up for a photograph then bursting into a wild pillow fight, some 20 children celebrated the establishment of Poland’s first Jewish elementary school in more than 25 years.

In September, these 6- and 7-year-old Polish and American Jews will attend their first classes at the Lauder-Morasha School, located next to the Warsaw’s only synagogue.

The program will include Hebrew, Jewish tradition and culture, English, art, sport as well as the basics of Polish primary school curriculum.

″To rekindle Jewish tradition and Jewish life in eastern Europe, especially here in Poland, was my dream,″ U.S. businessman Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement.

His New York-based Lauder Foundation sponsored the initiative and houses the school.

″With this project we are bridging the past with the future,″ said the statement, read by the foundation’s Margery Featherbush in the school gym Wednesday. Polish government officials and representatives from the U.S., Canadian and Israeli embassies were present.

Rabbi Michael J. Schudrich, also of the foundation, said the occasion was a milestone for roughly 5,000-strong Jewish community in Poland. More than 1 million Jews lived in Poland before World War II and most died in the Holocaust.

″We no longer speak of if there is a future for us here, but of what it will be like,″ said Schudrich. ″It is in our hands.″

Beaming school Director Helise E. Lieberman said the school will begin with the two youngest classes and will develop as more children join. Recruitment is still going on, she said.

The Lauder-Morasha school, which will be recognized by the Polish Ministry of Education, joins similar foundation schools in Vienna and Budapest.

The last Jewish school in Poland, which had a centuries-long tradition, was closed in 1968 by the order of the country’s Communist rulers during a purge of high-ranking Jews.

Poland’s rabbi Menachem Joskovich was happy to see the children playing and laughing around him.

″We see that there is future here,″ he said smiling as red, blue and green pillows were flying by.

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