I am always surprised and moved by the courage and conviction displayed by Polish people who seek a connection to Judaism. There is something that draws people — call it curiosity; devotion; sympathy; guilt; a search for roots; reincarnated souls, — but it is “something” powerful.
The struggle for Jewish identity and membership reminds us of the power of Judaism’s ethical message and the tenacious spirit to persevere. My work with Beit Polska is meaningful for me on many levels. The wonderful people I meet inspire me to spend long hours on the phone on early mornings and also some six months a year in Poland away from family.
On this blog, over the next several months we will present some of the stories of people who have chosen to affiliate with the Jewish people. Each person’s story is different and each story is full of surprising and life affirming choices. This year alone fifteen people completed their studies and converted to Judaism through the efforts of Beit Warszawa and Beit Polska. We are proud of our teaching role in preparing and inspiring these people.
Some of these writings that we will present from time to time on this blog are from essays that individuals wrote explaining their path to Judaism. Some are stories collected by Judy Maller as part of her own writing project.
Some people are just curious about Jews and Judaism which is both vividly present and sometimes, appallingly absent in Poland. People — the vast majority of whom are regular Poles — enjoy the tourist Judaism of Krakow’s Klezmer music concerts. Tens of thousand of people attend these festivals.Others feel drawn to study and formally convert to Judaism. There is no one story of the path of people to (re)-join the Jewish people. These “newcomers” or homecomers” are literally a M’chaiyah — “a life giving balm” for Progressive Jews. We are inspired by our meetings and encounters with our brothers and sisters. Beit Polska and Beit Warszawa plan active role in informed people about the diversity in Jewish life. You might consider joining one of our “twinning” programs over skype and maybe coming for an in person visit to Poland.
All the stories are intensely moving. We are fortunate to be able to live in a time when we can join and support these “returnees.” Some will remain in Poland and contribute toward building a new community and a few will migrate as Jewish Poles, to other places in the world including a contingent who are inspired to move to Israel. Read More
Additional narratives can be found on our affiliated blog, RabbiBeliakBlog.org.