27 March 2007

American rabbi and hidden Polish Jews

The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, is a New Yorker and is the grandson of Polish Jews who immigrated to the U.S. before WWII. He arrived in Warsaw in 1990 and he has seen a "remarkable renaissance" in Jewish life there, as he describes in this Washington Post article.

He's been assaulted and accosted on the streets, but also jokes that he oversees "one of the most vibrant, dysfunctional communities in Europe."

He tells stories of Poles who discover their Jewish roots by accident, such as the skinhead teenagers who got married out of high school, had a baby and discovered they were both Jewish.

Community leaders estimate some that 20,000 Poles identify as Jews, and 2,000 are active in communities located in Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz and five other cities. Warsaw has a Jewish elementary school, Jewish kindergartens, youth centers and summer camps. Today there are eight rabbis; in 2004, Schudrich was the only one.

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