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I moved from dank, dark North Manchester, U.K. to Karmiel, Western Galilee, Israel in March 2010. It is, believe me, one of the sunniest, loveliest towns on earth. With a background in local Jewish journalism I continue to write freelance. I manage several blogs, have  appeared on Technorati and Blogcritics and now contribute to the online magazine, 'Live Encounters'. My main blog is Alwayswriteagain (http://wwwalwayswriteagain.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Mr and Mrs Neo Nazi Discover They Are Jewish!

The international media is overcome with blushes about a Polish couple who have discovered their Jewish roots. The embarrassing bit for everyone is that they are reformed  Neo Nazis.

Below is the version in the Jerusalem Post:


"Two Polish former neo-Nazis who recently discovered their Jewish roots were the subjects of a CNN documentary aired on Saturday. The two, who met when they were 12 and were married at 18, describe themselves as having been rebellious youth and slowly becoming affiliated with Warsaw's neo-Nazi skinhead movement during their teenage years.

"Ola vaguely remembered having a conversation with her mother when she was 13 years old in which her mother told her about their family's Jewish roots. As she later discovered through her own research, her ancestors hid their Jewish identities in order to escape the persecution of  Nazi Germany and later in the Soviet Union.

"As she and her husband became more and more involved in Warsaw's skinhead movement, Ola remembered that conversation with her mother so many years before. Determined to find answers for herself, she went to Poland's Jewish Historical Institute. However, Ola did not only confirm her own family's Jewish roots. She also discovered that her neo-Nazi husband's ancestors were Jewish as well.

"'It was unbelievable -- it turned out that we had Jewish roots. It was a shock. I didn't expect to find out that I had a Jewish husband,'" Ola said of her discovery. She said that she didn't know how to tell her husband the news, but felt compelled to do so.

"'I was a nationalist 100 percent. Back then when we were skinheads it was all about white power and I believed Poland was only for Poles. That Jews were the biggest plague and the worst evil of this world,'" Ola's husband Pawel told CNN. "'It is difficult to describe how I felt when I found out I was Jewish... I was angry, sad, scared, unsure.'"

Pawel also talked about how he has changed. In his new life, he feels bad for some of the things he did and the people he hurt. The two began to deal with their renewed Jewish identity by attending an Orthodox Jewish synagogue. To this day, they have consulted with and studied under Warsaw's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich.
Today, the now-Orthodox couple have fully embraced their Judaism, Pawel studying to work in a kosher slaughter house and his wife Ola working as a kashrut supervisor in the synagogue's kitchen.

"It says on a personal level, never write somebody off. Where they may be 10 years ago doesn't have to be where they are today. And the human being has this unlimited capability of changing and sometimes even for the better," Rabbi Schudrich said of his two congregants".

No kidding! The story is excellent but not as exotic as it looks. Time and again we hear tales about people with an apparently illogical interest in Jews, Judaism and Israel who then discover their Jewish ancestry. My favourite one is that of the well-known Manchester U.K. Chasid, Moshe Kalman who began life as a Southern American Baptist but learned of his tenuous connection to Judaism ... The remainder,  you may agree, is an inordinately fine personal history.




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