Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Jewish-Christian Studies




Lawrence E. Frizzell, Ph.D

Committee Member

David M. Bossman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alan Brill, Ph.D.


Judaism, Poland, Catholic Church, Jews, Day of Judaism, Communism


This master’s thesis discusses “The Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church of Poland,” a special time in the Polish Church calendar to rediscover her roots in Judaism. Thus, the aim of this study is to present the changes taking place in the Catholic Church in Poland in the wake of the Second Vatican Council—changes that seek to present Judaism in an impartial and authentic way, and changes that seek to understand the Christian identity of Catholics.

The scope of the current work covers the history of Polish-Jewish relations from Communist Poland to the present day (2015), in parallel with the history of the Catholic Church in the same time frame. The study also employs the method of comparative-historical analysis regarding Polish-Jewish relations and the plight of the Church in the Communist era and today, to indicate why the interfaith dialogue gained momentum in recent years.

The First Chapter presents a historical analysis of Polish-Jewish relations from 1945-1989 and shortly after the fall of Communism. The description includes in particular the postwar difficulties in the coexistence of Poles and Jews, State-citizen relations, the brutal repressions of Jews and Poles by the Communist regime, and the problem of antisemitism.

The Second Chapter covers the situation of the Church in Communist Poland along with a description of the first incentives that led her to the dialogue with Jews. This chapter is divided into the four subsections. Subsection 1 is devoted to the overall situation of the Church in Poland, including the relation on the level of Catholic Church-Communist state authorities, which touches upon persecutions of the priests and Church adherents. Subsection 2 addresses the reception of the Second Vatican Council by the Church in Poland. Subsection 3 presents the controversy around the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz. Finally, Subsection 4 focuses on the issue of the Church’s approach to Judaism.

The Third Chapter raises, among other subjects, the origins of the Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church in Poland, an analysis of its documents, content of the brochures disseminated for the Day of Judaism, the evaluation of the initiative by Catholics and Jews, and in conclusion the fruits that this Day brings to the Church.

Finally, the analysis of the Day of Judaism confirmed that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council have been applied in Poland. Another question that has been answered to a large extent in this master’s thesis was how the post-conciliar changes, in particular development of the Day of Judaism, are adopted in practice—in the parishes and in the public opinion.

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