Lodz residents took part in the Festival of Tranquility, held during the Jewish holiday of Shavout, which honored the Jewish heritage of the city, a press release by Shavei Israel reported on Wednesday.

Pre-war Lodz was an important industrial city in which Germans, Jews, Poles and Russians lived side by side. This reality is honored by an annual September festival called “Festival of Four Cultures” and was depicted in the famous 1899 novel by Wladyslaw Reymont The Promised Land. Polish film director Andrzej Wajda made a film based on that novel in 1975.

After the Nazis occupied Poland, they established a ghetto in Lodz and packed it with around 200,000 Jews. Lodz currently has a tiny, yet functioning Jewish community.

The Festival of Tranquility began with a special memorial service honoring the first Lodz Fire Brigade Chief Polish-Jewish Maurcy Gutentag. Lectures were given on the Shavout holiday and Jewish history, and a tour of the Jewish sites of the city was held. Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Shudrich was an honored guest of the festival.

The festival was created in cooperation with Shavei Israel, a Jewish outreach group that wishes to help Poles with Jewish heritage reconnect to the culture of their ancestors.

Poland held one of the biggest Jewish communities in Europe before the Holocaust. The size and relative security of the Jewish civilization in that land led to the creation of powerful Hassidic courts as well as secular Yiddish speaking writers and radicals.

The Bund movement, a non-Zionist socialist Jewish political movement fought for the Jewish people to be recognized as a nation alongside the Polish one in Poland in the years leading to the Second World War.

Jewish-Polish Warsaw Ghetto fighter Marek Edelman chose to learn medicine in Lodz after the ending of World War II.

Noted cardiologist, Edelman was an active member in the Polish resistance movement to the People’s Republic of Poland and was honored as a national hero in Poland until his death in 2009.

Original Link:  http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Lodz-honors-Jewish-heritage-with-a-unique-festival-592292