Warsaw Jews seek revival, hire first rabbi in 40 years

Rabinowicz, who is in his mid-20s, and his wife both speak Polish.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which support most Jewish religious, educational and social welfare activities in Poland, will contribute the needed funds.

Rabinowicz is being hired specifically as the rabbi for a congregation with several hundred members. Hundreds more Jews are members of other Jewish clubs and organizations; there are estimated to be many more unaffiliated Jews in the city.

Since the late 1980s, Poland has been served by one chief rabbi, Menachem Joskowicz, an elderly man who spends much of his time in Israel and who has been criticized as being out of touch with the revival of Polish Jewry that has taken place since the fall of communism.

It was unclear what impact the hiring of Rabinowicz will have on Joskowicz's position.

More than 3 million Polish Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and most survivors fled in the face of anti-Semitism after World War II. An anti-Semitic campaign orchestrated by the communist regime in 1968 forced some 20,000 Jews to leave the country.

Since the collapse of communism, Polish Jews have attempted to rebuild communal structures with the aid of the JDC, the Lauder foundation and other organizations.

Thousands of Jews around the country, most of them born after World War II, have reclaimed their Jewish identities in the past decade.

The Jewish community of Wroclaw is also seeking a rabbi.