Pole star dazzles pupils

December 2, 2010

A non-Jewish man who learned Hebrew to help him restore a synagogue in Poland has inspired a group of Jewish Liverpool and Manchester teenagers.

Sixth-formers from the King David High schools in both cities went on a first joint Holocaust educational visit to Poland. It took them to concentration camps but also to a number of lesser known locations over five days.

At the synagogue in Lancut, south-eastern Poland, the group met the man who has restored the burnt-out interior of the building. Speaking to them in broken Hebrew, which he learned to restore the synagogue's Jewish tapestries and texts, he showed them torn pieces of torah parchment and tefilin he had painstakingly repaired.

"He was so pleased to see Jewish people because there were barely any there he could learn from," said Anthony Chinn, 17, from Childwall in Liverpool, who said the trip had enabled him to widen his Jewish circle to Manchester.

Manchester participant Natalie Bernstein, 17, daughter of Sir Howard Bernstein, was amazed the synagogue restorer allowed the group access at 11pm after they had been delayed.

"He took such pride in what he'd done. It was moving. He showed us the items he had found in the synagogue's basement."

Last updated: 10:12am, December 3 2010