Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Conversion - descendants of German Nazis

Recipients and Publicity commented to "Conversion - more Blacks are converting to Judaism...":

Not just Blacks are converting to Judaism, but even ultra-Whites, descendants of German Nazis too, (seems everyone wants to be Jewish except the myriad of the majority of secular Jews who don't, and are marrying more non-Jews than ever):

The Guardian

"The sins of their fathers

A relative of Hitler is now Jewish and living in Israel.

So is the son of a Waffen-SS man.

Tanya Gold talks to the descendants of Nazis who have embraced Judaism

The Guardian, Wednesday August 6 2008 [...]

Two years ago I read a strange little story in an obscure American magazine for Orthodox Jews, claiming that a descendant of Adolf Hitler had converted to Judaism and was living in Israel. I had heard rumours in Jewish circles for years about "the penitents" - children of Nazis who become Jews to try to expiate the sins of their fathers. Could it be true? I dug further and discovered that a man with a family connection to Hitler does indeed live in Israel as an Orthodox Jew. Virtually unnoticed in the English-speaking world, he was exposed seven years ago in an Israeli tabloid. Then he sank from sight. I went to Israel to meet him - and on the way I was plunged into the strange subculture of the Nazi-descended Jews.

I am walking through the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem, to meet Aharon Shear-Yashuv. He is the son of a Nazi. And yet he was a senior rabbi in the Israeli armed forces. He lives in an apartment in the Jewish quarter, near the Western Wall. I walk through a pale gold alley; Orthodox Jewish men in long black coats and round fur hats dart past. He opens the door and looks like every other rabbi I have ever met - a black suit, a beard, a questioning shrug. He takes me into his study, settles into a chair, and says, in a thick German accent: "My father was in the Waffen-SS."

He was, he explains, born in the Ruhr Valley in 1940. During the war, his father served on the eastern front with Hitler's elite troops. What did his father do in the Waffen-SS? "I don't know," he says calmly. "When I grew up I tried to ask, but there weren't really answers."

He was four when he first met his father. "I don't remember anything about that," he says. It seems he doesn't want to talk about his father; he doesn't describe his conversion in psychological terms but in grand theological and historical ones. "During my theological studies at university it became clear that I couldn't be a minister in the church," he says. "I concluded that Christianity was paganism. One of [its] most important dogmas is that God became man, and if God becomes man then man also can become God." He pauses. "Hitler became a kind of god."

So would he have become a Jew even if the Holocaust had never happened, even if his family had been anti-Nazi? He looks surprised. "Oh yes." I try to draw him back to his father, but he seems exasperated. "Well, you see, he is a father, of course, but ideologically, there was no connection. I was so involved in my conviction that I had found the right path, all the other items no longer had any importance."

Fragments of the story begin to emerge through the haze of theological reasoning. His father was "shocked and enraged" when he went to study Judaism in America, he concedes. "For him that was the end of the world. 'My son is leaving Germany to study in a Jewish rabbinical seminary!' He told me I was crazy and renounced me as a son." When he moved to Israel, his parents pretended that it hadn't happened; they told their neighbours he was still in America. Years later, his sister arranged a meeting with his parents at a station in Düsseldorf. Shear-Yashuv arrived with a Jewish friend. His father peered out of the train, saw the Jewish stranger, and refused to get off.

Today, he believes Germany is doomed. "People there don't get married, and if they do they have one child," he says. "But the Turks and the other foreigners have many children. So it is a question of time that Germany will no longer be German." Why does he think this has happened? "I think it is a punishment for the Holocaust," he says, matter-of-factly. "Germany will leave the stage of history, no doubt about it." But the Jews, by contrast, will never die. This is a neat irony of history that he loves. "All the great cultures have left the stage of history," he says. "The Romans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Babylonians. But this little people, who gave so much to the world, do not." He chuckles. "That is something."

I walk through the Old City, pondering my encounter with this strange, kindly man. Something seems to be missing from his story. To stand in front of a rabbi whose father was in the SS and to hear he became a Jew because he doubted the Trinity is absurd. So I telephone Dan Bar-On, a professor of psychology at Ben Gurion University, and a world expert on the psychology of the children of perpetrators. He tells me, flatly, pitilessly: "The motive of the converts is to join the community of the victims. If you become part of the victim community, you get rid of the burden of being part of the perpetrator community." He interviewed Shear-Yashuv for his book Legacy of Silence. "For me," he says, "Shear-Yashuv represents a person who ran away from the past."

A few days later, I take a tatty bus to the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, on a mountain just outside Jerusalem. There is an air of absolute, manufactured silence. In the middle is a glass-and-concrete mausoleum - the memorial. I am here to meet a woman who works in the educational department. She was born in Munich, she told me on the telephone, and she is a convert. I meet her in a cafe on the terrace; it is very chichi, but the wind is blowing in from the desert. She is in her late 30s and her head is covered. Her face is stereotypically German but the mannerisms - her emphatic movements and the soaring cadences of her voice - are all Jewish. [...]


  1. Also skirting the nature-vs-nurture issue is the number of Israeli women who go to a very successful IVF-Donor clinic in Germany...


  2. They don't want to be Jewish. They want to redefine Judaism as a sect of Christianity.

    And they are winning.

    My children were watching a DVD in Hebrew from a reputable Judaica store. The credits, in English show it is produced by an Evangelical Christian Church. It is full of not-so-subtle Christian messages.

    I pick up a DVD in shul about Gog u'Magog and watch it at home. When I do an internet search on the producer of the video, I see that they are incorporated as a Protestant Church.

    My children bring home a parsha sheet and there is a quote attributed to the Ramban. I remember learning the same passuk in school, but quite differently. I look in my Ramban sefer and find that the quote attributed to the Ramban on that passuk is not there.

    Where did this come from? I search on the internet and find that it is a quote by a Christian theologian. Certainly NOT the Ramban!!

    How did such a thing come home not only in my children's parsha sheet, but it was also sent home with my brother's children (NJ) and my cousins' children (Boro Park) and a friend's children in Baltimore that week too!!

  3. Jersey girl's life is full of interesting plots.

    I make it a habit to throw out any "free" CDs or things that come in the mail about "Judaism" as I have a hard enough time ripping up all those appeals from Rosh Yeshivas for suffering kids and dead bread winners or starving Yerushalmis that will get money through the hands of hungry prominent rabbis and rebbes. I know of some reliable tzedakas instead.

    I don't read the weekly print outs in shull (I try to throw some into the trash when I can) because I have a hard enough time keeping up with the ba'al koreh as he zooms through leining, and my kids moras and rebbes are so functionally illitirate that it's a cinch keeping track of their weekly nonsense parsha quizes and sheets.

    I do read the three weekly frum papers, YATED, MODIAH, Jewish Press and the weekly Mishpacha (an expensive addiction that I hope to give up one day, but it makes my wife happy on Shabbos) even though they are total moronic bores with repetative news, mostly about Israel and Israeli politics which is very strange and hypocritical for them since they are mostly anti-Zionist (except for the Jewish Press which does not ban photos of ladies at functions.)


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