CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IN POLANDThis is quite beautiful in a way:

Make-believe Jewish weddings — a regular educational event in Spain and Portugal, where nostalgia for nearly-extinct Jewish communities is also prevalent — are rare in Poland (locals in the village of Bobowa organized one in 2013). Even rarer are enactments as well-produced as the one in Radzanow.

Organized by the Radzanovia Association, a cultural group promoting Polish heritage, the event featured a few dozen non-Jewish volunteers, men and women, dressed in traditional haredi costumes. Some men wore fake beards and side curls – including ones that didn’t match their natural hair color.Portraying the groom was Piotr Czaplicki, a journalist for the Radia dla Ciebie station. Czaplicki, who is not Jewish, got under a chuppah – the canopy used in traditional Jewish weddings — together with his make-believe bride, Julia Brzezińska, a local resident. They were “wed” by a fake rabbi in a show before villagers, whom the event’s organizers sought to teach about Jewish traditions.

To Jonny Daniels, the London-born founder of From the Depths, which promotes Holocaust commemoration in Poland, events like the one in Radzanów are “some kind of therapy taking place all over the country.”

With the Holocaust, Europe has lost a huge part of its heart and soul. The history of Jewish life in Europe over the centuries has of course been a complex one, to say the least, with the relations between individuals and communities ranging across the whole spectrum from anti-Semitism to integration. There is no doubt that the Jewish contribution to the Western civilisation – in commerce, science, culture – has been immense and far out proportion with numbers. Anti-Semitism still exists in various degree (often the phenomenon of “anti-Semitism without the Jews”), recently bolstered by mass Islamic immigration, but so does the yearning for what has been lost:

Nostalgia for Jews is a well-documented phenomenon in Eastern Europe, with cultural and even substantial commercial aspects.

In Ukraine, so-called Jewish-themed restaurants with pork-heavy menus compete for tourists, while figurines of Jews are sold at markets as good luck charms. In Poland, graffiti reading “I miss you, Jew” have become a common sight.

In Europe, history is never quite in the past and the past in never quite history.