The leader of one of the world's largest hassidic movements has ordered his followers to avoid travelling to Poland due to what is popularly referred to as the "Holocaust Law", a newly passed piece of legislation in Poland which allows a sentence of up to three years in prison for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich".
According to a report by Kikar Hashabbat, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, the Grand Rabbi of the Gerrer hassidic court, was approached by a group of his followers seeking approval to travel to the grave of Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk, a saintly 18th-century rabbinic luminary who is buried near Warsaw.
While the rabbi gave his approval to visit the graves of prominent rabbis in Europe, he ordered that Poland be dropped from the itinerary due to the Holocaust Law. He also banned his followers from traveling to Poland for any reason other than business.
The Holocaust Law was first passed last month and outlaws claims of collusion by the Polish nation with the Holocaust. The legislation caused outrage in Israel and has been criticized by the U.S. State Department, the French Foreign Ministry, and certain Jewish organizations.
Stung by the heavy criticism, the Polish government sent a delegation to Israel last week in an attempt to resolve the dispute but the two sides were unable to find common ground.