08 December 2009

Poland: Chanukah guide for 'hidden Jews'

The first-ever Polish-language guide to Chanukah - for the hidden Jews of Poland - was just released by Shavei Israel, headed by Michael Freund.

The guide, "Lights for Polish Jewry," will be distributed for free during the holiday throughout Poland. Read the complete story here.

According to Freund, many Poles have just discovered their Jewish roots and that they were and are hidden Jews and that they want to reconnect with Jewish traditions.

"It is our hope that this book will, in some small way, enable a new generation of Polish Jews to celebrate Chanukah with joy, as well as gain a better understanding of our eternal faith, its principles and beliefs."

Despite the fact that there are only 4,000 Jews that are officially registered as living in Poland, the organization has estimated that there are tens of thousands of others who have concealed their true identity, or are simply unaware of it.
Because of historical events in Europe, many people have lost their Jewish connection. Many do not know that they are descendants of Jews, and others were "hidden children" raised by Catholic families during the Holocaust.

Many people in these situations are now following up on clues, on half-remembered stories, on hints dropped by relatives.

Michael writes for the Jerusalem Post, and founded Shavei Israel after he made aliyah from the US. He has spoken to our Jewish genealogical society, JFRA Israel, in the past.

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