Christians and Jews pray together in Warsaw to start Day of Judaism

Christians and Jews held a joint prayer service on Wednesday at the mass grave of the victims of the World War II Warsaw Ghetto, as Poland celebrates the 21st annual Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church.

The prayer was led by the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich and Auxiliary Bishop Rafal Markowski of the Catholic diocese of Warsaw.  

Before the ceremony, the rabbi said that although it was not known how many people were buried in the mass grave at Warsaw's Jewish cemetery, "all of them are victims of the Holocaust and all are sacred."

The Polish Catholic Church has been celebrating its Day of Judaism since 1998, and the date of January 16 was chosen to coincide with the start, on January 17, of the annual Week of Prayers for Christian Unity.

The main celebrations are held annually in a different Polish city. This year, they take place in Warsaw and the motto comes from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah: "Peace! Peace to those near and far."

In fact, the events stretch over a number of days, between January 16 and 21, comprising prayer sessions, scholarly conferences, exhibitions, educational workshops for teachers, as well as film screenings. 

The centrepiece of the 21st Day of Judaism was scheduled for later on Wednesday, with the Archbishop of Warsaw, Kazimierz Nycz, set to preside over the Liturgy of the Word, held in the Polish capital's St. John's Archcathedral.