Royal pride in Krakow

By Leon Symons, May 2, 2008

Prince Charles is ‘moved’ as he opens a Jewish centre that he helped to fund Prince Charles was so taken by his involvement in creating a new Polish Jewish community centre, which he opened in Krakow on Tuesday, that he now intends to become involved in another Jewish project in Eastern Europe, the JC understands. “To stand between the Tempel and Kupa synagogues in the heart of the Jewish community is like touching history,” he said during the opening ceremony. “Your community has borne witness to some of the darkest clouds of human history right up to today when this opens a new and important chapter. “[The centre] provides a much-needed place to respect the past and to whole-heartedly embrace the future. I hope the exemplary values of one generation can pass on to another and that your children can be a source of pride and inspiration. “I can’t tell you what a moment this is. It gives me enormous pride.” The idea for the £700,000 community centre came from the Prince after a visit there in 2002, when he met some of the community’s elderly people and asked what he could do to help them. On his return, Dame Vivien Duffield put him in touch with the Camden-based charity World Jewish Relief. Its current and past chairmen, Nigel Layton and Jonathan Joseph, met the Prince subsequently to launch the scheme. The Prince’s commitment came via an unprecedented personal contribution to the cost and he has followed its progress closely. Mr Layton and property company owner Leo Noe, a donor to the project, accompanied the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall on the flight to Krakow. Prince Charles said as he opened the centre: “For me it’s very moving indeed to be able to join the Jewish community here in Krakow, who I know have suffered so much in the past, and to be able to join you today on the steps of this new community centre to which so many people have contributed through their remarkable generosity. For both my wife and myself, going around it and seeing some of the uses to which it’s being put has warmed our hearts.” The Prince paid tribute to the “extraordinary work” carried out by WJR and to its donors “because without them and their response to my ‘interference’ we would not have a centre like this”. The JC understands that while meeting some of the donors who had flown from England, the Prince spoke of his desire to become involved in another project in eastern Europe. Senior sources at the charity confirmed that avenues were being explored as to how the Prince could become involved again. The charity works with impoverished Jewish communities in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania as well as Poland. Two years ago, it opened a community centre in Zaporozhe in Ukraine. Prince Charles said it was a “particular pleasure” to meet again Ryszard Orowski, one of those who gave the Prince his inspiration six years ago. Mr Orowski, 67, said: “It was wonderful to meet the Prince again after all these years and that he remembered me. However, there was no interpreter, so I did not know what he said, but he was smiling and very happy.” As a baby, Mr Orowski had been left by a fence by his mother, who later died in Belzec concentration camp. A man who found him gave him to a Polish family in Krakow who raised him as their own until he was 18. The rest of his family perished in the war.

Last updated: 11:55am, May 22 2008