17 May 2010

Poland: Shavuot guide in Polish language

A new Polish-language guide to the holiday of Shavuot will be given to thousands of hidden Jews throughout Poland by Shavei Israel.

The new guide explains the holiday's meaning and significance, traditional songs and recipes, and is part of the group's efforts to reach out to hidden Jews and help them reconnect.

Currently active in nine countries, the non-profit organization's aim is to strengthen ties with descendants of Jews around the world. The communities it helps include Bnei Menashe (India); Bnai Anousim (Spain, Portugal and South America); Subbotnik Jews (Russia); Kaifeng (China), Polish hidden Jews from the Holocaust era and others.

According to Shavei Israel's founder and chair Michael Freund, "In recent years, an increasing number of Poles have rediscovered their Jewish ancestry, seeking to reclaim the precious heritage that was so brutally taken from them and their forebears. It is our hope that this book will, in some small way, enable a new generation of Polish Jews to celebrate Shavuot with joy, as well as gain a better understanding of our eternal faith."

According to the press release:

About the “Hidden Jews” of Poland and the revival of Polish Jewry – a phenomenon that has gained in strength in Poland in recent years, with many Jews slowly returning to Judaism and the Jewish people. Many of these Jews lost all contact with Judaism due to the extreme anti-Semitism that they encountered after the Holocaust, and some of them even converted. Others concealed their Jewishness from the Communist authorities and now feel free to resume their true identity. Another phenomenon pertains to Jewish young people who were adopted by Catholic families and institutions during the Holocaust. They were told nothing of their Jewish identity, and only in recent years have they or their descendants gradually begun to rediscover it. Today around 4,000 Jews are officially registered as living in Poland, but according to various estimates, there are tens of thousands of others who have concealed their true identity, or are simply unaware of it.
For more information, click here.

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