Religion & Beliefs

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla Open Jewish Center in Krakow

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla arrived in Poland today to take part in the opening ceremony of a new Jewish community center in Krakow’s Kazimierz Jewish quarter. While the project was overseen by World Jewish Relief (a charity group based … Read More

By / April 29, 2008

Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla arrived in Poland today to take part in the opening ceremony of a new Jewish community center in Krakow’s Kazimierz Jewish quarter. While the project was overseen by World Jewish Relief (a charity group based in London and credited with aiding Jewish children in escaping the Nazi regime during World War II), the inspiration for and funding of the center came directly from the Prince of Wales.

In 2002, Charles met with many of Krakow’s Holocaust survivors and was so moved by their stories that he decided to commit himself to the building of a community center. Many of the survivors he initially spoke with were present at today’s ceremony, including Ryszard Orowski, who lost all of his relatives in the Holocaust. Orowski expressed his joy and amazement over the project: "Never did we imagine that we would have a center, a home for the whole community of Krakow."

The center will be used by about one thousand neighboring community members, ranging from elderly citizens to Polish students at Krakow University. It will be open to Jews and non-Jews alike for all sorts of social, religious, and educational activities.

As a token of gratitude, Prince Charles was given the honor of nailing the mezuzah on the front door of the center, making for one of a few rather excellent photo ops.

It is probably no coincidence that the opening of the center coincides with Yom Hashoah, and thus far plans have gone off without a hitch — unlike three years ago when the British Royal family’s plans to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day went
terribly awry after every tabloid from here to Tel Aviv had a photo of Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi soldier on its cover. Also notable is that the Prince and Duchess’s presence at the opening of the community center comes less than a month after the Jerusalem Post published an article exposing the United Kingdom as “the European center of anti-Semitism.” According to Oxford-educated Hebrew University Professor Robert S. Wistrich, anti-Semitism is so implicit in British culture – literary, political, and otherwise – that Brits can’t even recognize it anymore.

Not to belittle his efforts in Krakow, but maybe Prince Charles should take that kippah and hammer and head over to a synagogue in his own hometown.