A Report on the March of Prayer along the Route of the Warsaw Ghetto
As it has been customary since 1992, around the 19th of April – on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 – the Polish Coubcil of Christians and Jews gathered about a hundred of inhabitants of Warsaw, as well as guests from beyond the capital, to march and pray together along the route of the Warsaw Ghetto monuments.
In one of his letters to Marek Edelman, the last living commander of the Uprising, Lech Wałęsa wrote in the eighties that this Uprising might have been one of the most Polish of our uprisings. The Polish Council wishes to commemorate that event with the annual March of Prayer, and pay homage to the Jews who were murdered by the Nazi Germany during the Shoah.
This year the prayer was taking place exactly on the anniversary of the beginning of the Uprising, on Sunday, the 19th of April. The day was sunny, just as it had been then...
The first station was at the Ghetto Heroes Monument. The prayer was begun by Father Roman Indrzejczyk, the chaplain of the President of Poland. In his prayer he expressed i.a. the hope, that this horrifying martyrdom would bring fruit, that it would have a positive effect on the humankind. The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, said the prayer for the dead. We laid the flowers at the Monument, as we did at every station.
At the second monument – the Tree of the Upright - we said, among the others, „Our Father” for the Upright among the Nations of the World, the living and the dead. A Dominican, Father Marek Nowak, in his introduction to the prayer, said that it is deeply rooted in the Jewish tradition, from which the roots of the Church stem, and we are obliged to remember that when we are saying this prayer.
The next monument we stopped at was the Stone Memorial to Szmul Zygielbojm. The prayers were said by the Lutheran lady-pastor Halina Radacz. Laying the flowers, Barbara Sułek – Kowalska , a journalist and a member of PCCJ, reminded us of the person of Reuven Zygielbojm, the youngest brother of Szmul, who returned to Poland at the end of his life and died here in 2005. B. Sułek – Kowalska said that Szmul had been an example and an ideal to Reuven, and to us he would also remain for ever a model of ultimate unification with the suffering ones.
The next stop took place at the Bunker at 10, Miła Street. The Jewish prayer for the dead was said by Piotr Kadlcik from the Warsaw Jewish Denominational Community, and then Psalm 94 by all of us. Here, no more words were necessary...
Then the March stopped at the Stone Memorial to Janusz Korczak. Halina Bortnowska said, that at this place we remembered a Master of Life, who had drawn his strength from the tradition, that had been destined to be wiped off the face of the earth.
The last stop was at the Umschlagplatz. The prayer for the dead was said by Mr Reisner from the Jewish Denominational Community in Warsaw. On the Christian side the prayer was led by Father Andrzej Tulej, Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz`s delegate for the dialogue with Judaizm. He reminded us, that that Sunday was the Sunday of Mercy in the Roman Catholic Church. Referring to the encyclical „Dives in Misericordia” he said that „God loves every human being with „chesed” – that is with the love which never abandons man, with the love to the very end – with the love that is tender and full of mercy.”
At the end we traditionally said the prayer of the Holy Father John Paul II for the Jewish People. It expresses the care about the Other, because love does express the desire for the good of the Other.
Zbigniew Nosowski, the co-chairman of PCCJ, thanked the present for the participation in the prayers, Jewish and Christian, organized by the Polish Council of Christians and Jews.