On Sunday morning, several hundred residents of Plonsk, Poland, the birth place of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, took part in a procession to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.
The event, which was organized by Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union), the March of the Living, and the Municipality of Plonsk, was led by Plonsk Mayor Andrzej Pietrasik and attended by Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich and Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari. .
The marchers passed several of the way-stations of Ben Gurion’s early life, including a square named after him at the site where was the house in which he was born in stood in 1886, and the home of his uncle, in which he lived for most of his childhood before immigrating to Israel in 1906.
During the ceremony, the youngsters performed dances in traditional costume, including to the strains of Israeli tunes such as "Hava Nagila." Speeches were delivered by local and Israeli dignitaries including Schudrich, Azari, Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler, March of the Living Deputy Chair Aharon Tamir, and the town’s priest, Rev. Edmond Makovsky.
"Today in this moving ceremony in Plonsk, we have witnessed the true Poland, and the reverse side of the true relations between Poland and Israel," Rabbi Schudrich said. "A quiet and dignified procession, its face turned toward peace and brotherhood, with no counter-demonstrations and without strain and tension."
"It is not at all clear that such an event could have taken place today in Paris, Stockholm or London.
"What we have seen in this ceremony today is the Poland with whom we need to work together and to nurture the relationship. It is true that there are some problems, but there are also solutions – today’s event is part of the solution."