A Jerusalem-based group announced the opening of the first Jewish kindergarten in decades in the Polish city of Lodz. Shavei Israel, which tries to bring people with Jewish roots back into the Jewish fold, said Monday that the kindergarten would open in partnership with the city’s Jewish community of a few hundred members. The first class of 10 children will start in September. The city in central Poland, 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 Lodz in 1944.
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.
There are approximately 4,000 Jews officially registered as still living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Poles with Jewish roots who, to this day, are either hiding their identities or are unaware of their Jewish heritage.
The Gan Matanel kindergarten at 18 Pomorska Street will be run by Shavei Israel’s emissary to Lodz, David Szychowscy, and his wife, Miriam Szychowsca.
The last post-war Jewish school in Lodz – the I.L. Peretz school – was forced to close down in 1968 due to Communist repression.
Read more at JTA.