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Charles opens centre

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2008-04-30

Prince Charles

Prince Charles

Prince Charles has officially opened a new Jewish Community Centre in Krakow.

Travelling to Poland with his wife Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, the construction of the centre followed a previous visit the Prince made to Kracow in 2002. Having seen the dire situation Jews were living in, he pledged to help make a difference.

"For both my wife and myself, going around it just now and seeing some of the uses to which it's being put, has warmed our hearts," said Charles. "I can hardly believe after what seems a very long time we are at last able to open this Jewish community centre here in Krakow."

Working with World Jewish Relief, the new community centre was built on grounds next to the historic Tempel Synagogue and aims to serve all sections of the Jewish community as well as visitors from across the world.

"The Polish Jewish Community has suffered unimaginable hardship over the centuries.  Once one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, today it is among the smallest," said Michael Schudrich,  Chief Rabbi of Poland. "However, thanks to the munificence and grace of Their Royal Highnesses, this community here in Krakow – once a bustling centre of Jewish life – now has a real chance of returning to its former glory."

Following the official ceremony, both Charles and Camilla met members of the Jewish community.

"No words can describe the gratitude we have for the kindness and generosity of His Royal Highness," said Holocaust survivor Ryszard Orowski. "Never did we imagine that we would have a centre, a home, for the whole community of Krakow. Many think this community was entirely devastated by the Nazis but there is such life here still."

World Jewish Relief chairman Nigel Layton added: "His Royal Highness’s support of WJR has been truly exceptional and extraordinary. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. The anticipation of the Centre’s opening alone has already served to begin the rejuvenation of a community that has suffered so much over the years.  We hope that the Centre will enable the rich history of Jewish life in Krakow to be rekindled and enhanced."