The World Jewish Congress voiced “disgust and outrage” after a sculpture made to look like a stereotypical Jew set alight in the Polish town of Pruchnik on Good Friday.
Hundreds of residents, including children, were said to have taken part, reportedly beating and burning the effigy representing Judas, the disciple of Christ who betrayed him, according to the New Testament.
Poles also expressed their disgust at the revival of the antisemitic ritual, with many posting photos online of the same ritual being carried out before the Second World War.
Robert Singer, chief executive of the World Jewish Congress, said: “Jews are deeply disturbed by this ghastly revival of medieval antisemitism that led to unimaginable violence and suffering.
“One can only wonder how John Paul II, who taught Catholics in his native Poland and all over the world, that antisemitism is a sin against God and man would have reacted to this flagrant rejection of his teachings.”
He added: “We can only hope that the church and other institutions will do their best to overcome these frightful prejudices which are a blot on Poland’s good name.”