The three-week program was held entirely in Polish, and participants traveled throughout Israel, studied Hebrew, and learned about Jewish history, culture and religion.
The participants, most of whom are in their 20s, come from a variety of cities in Poland, including Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Przemysl, Wroclaw, Zawiercie, and Warsaw.
According to Michael Freund, founder and chairman of “Shavei Israel,” a number of the participants have decided to remain in Israel and continue their studies, while others are going back to Poland with the hope of playing a more active and central role in the Jewish community.
“In light of the positive feedback that we received from the participants, we plan to continue organizing similar seminars next year as well, in the hope that it will lead to a strengthening of Jewish life in Poland and ensure that the younger generation of Polish Jews remains connected to their Jewish heritage,” Freund said.
Today, there are approximately 4,000 Jews registered as living in Poland, but experts suggest there may be tens of thousands of other Jews in Poland who to this day are either hiding their identities or are simply unaware of their family heritage.
In some instances, due to their experiences during the Holocaust and under Communism, some Polish Jews chose to sever all connection with Judaism and to hide it from their children and grandchildren, who are only now beginning to discover the truth.
In other cases involving Jewish children adopted by Polish Catholic families or institutions during the Holocaust, the adoptees or their descendants have begun to uncover their Jewish roots. In recent years, a growing number of such people, known as the "Hidden Jews of Poland", have started to return to Judaism and to the Jewish people, with many contemplating aliyah.