Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Subbotnik Jews of Ilyinka are Jews



Shalom.
I saw the post on your blog today regarding the Subbotnik Jews of Russia, and was simply astonished at its tone and content. With all due respect - and I do respect talmidei chachamim - I would like to bring to your attention the attached article from the haredi newspaper HaMevaser which appeared last month.

In it, Maran HaGaon HaRav Elyashiv Shlit"a is quoted as ruling that the Subbotnik Jews of the village of Ilyinka in southern Russia are "yehudim kasherim lechol davar". While HaRav Elyashiv's pesak relates specifically to Ilyinka, I humbly suggest that in light of this, your headline to the effect that "Subbotniks are not Jewish" warrants correction.

Michael Freund

8 comments :

  1. If some Subbotnik's aren't Jewish, such as those in Vysoky, and some Subbotnik's might be Jewish, such as the Jews of Ilyinka, then clearly Subbotnik is not a term that implies Jewishness.

    Mr Freund's organization has a bad reputation for making the case that non-Jews are Jewish (I'm not saying it's valid or not, just that it's a reputation).

    I'd like to see Mr. Freund comment here regarding the "Subbotniks" who reside outside of Ilyinka. Does he feel they should have a right of return to Israel, and if so, why?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well this confirms what I said in a previous comment: Subbotniks is to general a term, since there are different groups of Subbotniks.

    So the title should read "Some/most/many Subbotniks are not Jewish" or something along those lines...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Shalvei tries to bring 2.5 million more Russian goyim to IsraelFebruary 12, 2009 at 4:00 AM

    Subbotniks (Russian: Субботники, lit. "Sabbatarians") are one of the Russian religious bodies known under the general name of "Judaizing Christian sects". On the whole, the Subbotniks originally differed probably very little from other Judaizing societies. They first appeared during the reign of Catherine II, toward the end of the eighteenth century. According to official reports of the Imperial Russian government, most of the sect's followers kept brit milah, believed in absolute monotheism rather than the Christian Trinity, accepted only the Jewish Bible, and observed the Sabbath on Saturday instead of on Sunday. According to the same source, however, some of them, as, for instance, the Subbotniks of Moscow, did not circumcise and believed in Jesus, regarding him as a saint and prophet rather than as God the Son. Other groups reportedly awaited the coming of the Messiah as king of the earth, in line with Judaism's view. Some reportedly revered the New Testament, while others placed it on a lower level than the Old Testament.

    Russian official sources from the period, however, can not be trusted implicitly, since the Subbotniks, like other Judaizing sects, carefully concealed their religious beliefs and rites from the surrounding Christians. They did not act so guardedly toward the Jews, however, with some communities referring to themselves as "Jews". Over the course of the 19th century, some communities became indistinguishable from the Russian Ashkenazi communities, with whom they eventually intermarried. The Russian government carefully isolated the Subbotniks from the followers of either religion, but whenever the opportunity offered itself, the Subbotniks sought out Hebrew religious texts from the Jews. Apart from circumcision, they also slaughtered their food animals according to the laws of shechita wherever they were able to learn the necessary rules. Moreover, they clandestinely used tefillin, tzitzit, and mezuzot, and prayed in almost the same manner as the Jews; namely, in private houses of prayer, with covered heads, reciting their prayers from Jewish prayer-books with Russian translation. The cantor read the prayers aloud, the congregants then prayed silently; during prayers a solemn silence was observed throughout the house. On Saturdays, readings were also done from the Torah. Of all the Jewish rites and traditions, the Subbotniks observed the Sabbath most zealously, whence their name. They were careful on that day to avoid work altogether; and they endeavored not to discuss worldly affairs.

    According to the testimony, private and official, of all those who studied their mode of life in czarist times, the Subbotniks were remarkably industrious; reading and writing, hospitable, not given to drunkenness, poverty, or prostitution. Up to 1820 the Subbotniks lived for the most part in the governments of Voronezh, Oryol, Moscow, Tula, and Saratov. After that year, the government deported those who openly acknowledged their membership in the sect to the foothills of the Caucasus, to Transcaucasia, and to the governments of Irkutsk, Tobolsk, and Yeniseisk, in Siberia.

    During the Holocaust, Subbotniks in Nazi occupied areas of Ukraine were slaughtered together with, and as, Jews. After War, the Soviet government eliminated the "Subbotnik" ethnicity's legal standing, and rather than registering them thenceforth as Jews, officially registered them simply as Russians, a fact that has led to some difficulty for modern members of the community who wish to make aliyah under Israel's Law of Return.

    It is impossible to determine the exact number of Subbotniks in Russia at any given time. The discrepancies between government statistics and the actual membership varied widely. Official data from czarist times placed the membership of the sect at several thousand, while the traveler and writer E. Dinard, who was in personal contact with the Subbotniks, stated that there were 2,500,000. It may be that Dinard included in his figures all of the Judaizing sects, and not just the Subbotniks. Regarding dress and lifestyle, apart from their religious rites, the Subbotniks were indistinguishable from Russian Orthodox or secular Russians.

    After the fall of the Soviet Union, many Subbotniks left Russia for Israel, as part of the exodus of over a million Russian Jews. Recently status-related problems have arisen for some of the Subbotniks who remain in Russia. Using testimonies from members of the remaining 800 Subbotniks in Vysoki as a representative example, Shavei Israel (an organization dedicated to Jewish outreach to "lost Jews" and to communities wishing to become Jewish), has been working extensively on efforts to alleviate these difficulties.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 12, 2009 at 7:09 AM

    MISHPACHA ARTICLE VS HaMevaser and The Jewish Press CHALLENGING JEWISHNESS OF SUBBOTNIKS

    Since Michael Freund himself, head of Shavei Israel has responded in defense of the Subbotniks of Illinka/Ilyinka, it is only fair to ask him to respond to the full report that Mishpacha magazine had and in it its assertions in the name of the Rabbinate (not clear if it's the Russian Chabad Rabbinate or the Israeli Chief Rabbinate or both) RULING that the Jews of Illinka/Ilyinka are not to be regarded as Halachik Jews even though individuals among them may be able to prove as such (see bold, below).

    Futheremore Michael Freund's Shavei Israel organization put out a press release in The Jewish Press, see below, that it was sending a rabbi to work with the Subbotniks of Vysoky, that the rabbis interviewed by Mishpacha magazine regard is non-Jews, see at bottom after "~~~~~" line below, and see bold in the Mishpacha article against Freund's view that the Subbotniks of Vysoky are worthy of Jewish outreach from his Shavei Israel organization.

    And a further question for Michael Freund, since you now seem to respect the positions of Haredi rabbis and feel free to cite them in your defense, do you also follow their guidance when it comes to the dangerous work you are doing to proselytize to people who are not provably Halachically Jewish and to run all over the world doing this kind of missionary work enticing entire population groups with desires to come to modern Israel where they can lead better lives rather than have any interest in serious Judaism or even in Zionism?

    Full reports follow. (Dear Rabbi Dr. Eidensohn: Please do not edit them due to the need of the full record in this discussion with Michael Freund):

    "MISHPACHA
    Jewish Family Weekly
    Issue 241
    11 Teves 5769
    January 7, 2009

    Jewish Geography
    Compiled by Rachel Ginsberg.

    ARE THE SUBBOTNIKS FULL-FLEDGED JEWS?

    Page 12-13

    [Photo: Subbotnik villagers waiting to emigrate under the Law of Return]
    [Photo: Michael Freund in Vysoky: “historical in justice”]
    [Photo: Rabbi Berel Lazar: giyur l’chumrah]

    An estimated 15,000 Subbotniks living in southern Russia and Siberia wish to return to the traditions of their ancestors and emigrate to Israel. Are they, in fact, Jews? Are they eligible for aliyah under the Law of Return? These questions are currently up before both the Israeli Supreme Court and the Chief Rabbinate.

    The Subbotniks were peasants in southern Russia who embraced Jewish practice and converted to Judaism more than 200 years ago under the czarist regime. In the early nineteenth century, Czar Alexander I expelled them from their homes and deported them to the far reaches of the empire as punishment for their adoption of Judaism. They were later ruthlessly persecuted by the communists, and thousands of them were murdered by the Germans after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II.

    A number of Subbotniks have made aliyah in recent years from the villages of Illinka and Vysoky and have settled in Beit Shemesh.

    Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Yisrael organization, says that this part of the group is descended from geirei tzedek who converted in full accordance with halachah before the communist revolution. Many of them even learned in various yeshivos in Eastern Europe and were considered full-fledged Jews. Yet in recent years government clerks have labeled them with the same name as Shabbos-observing Christian group called “Subbotniks,” who are indeed non-Jews who never converted. According to Freund, no rabbinical or halachic authority negates the Judaism of the original group.

    Reb Aryeh Turovsky served as the rabbi of the city of Voronezh in Russia, which is the district city of the above-mentioned villages, and was familiar with the Subbotniks from up close. “Many delegations of rabbis visited them, observed their customs, adherence to the Jewish people, and the tradition of their conversion, and decided they were Jews. They were mistakenly given the name of a Christian group whose members are not Jewish. The Christian members know that they are Christians and do not try to pass themselves off as Jews; they have no interest in aliyah. I know them as well. There are tow Christian sects in Russia that adhere to some customs in the Torah. One is the Subbotniks, who observe Shabbos, and the other is the Malokos, who maintain separation between milk and meat. Maloko in Russian is milk.”

    Two years ago a delegation representing Israeli’s chief rabbi and president of the Chief rabbinical Court, Rav Shlomo Amar, traveled to Russia to verify the matter. Rabbi Tzion Boaron, who was sent to examine the issue, says that in the village of Illinka, the Subbotniks are indeed geirei tzedek who underwent conversion, and they should be brought to Eretz Yisrael. However, Rav Amar ruled, on being presented with extensive evidence, that the Subbotniks who live in Vysoky are not halachic Jews; they are not registered as Jews, and the answers they gave as to why they are not registered were not sufficient. They have no mikveh and when the members of the delegation asked to meet with the shochet, they gave him evasive excuses.

    But despite the fact that in Israel there is a tendency to be lenient on the matter, the Russian Rabbinate remains more stringent. At the beginning of the High Court’s deliberations regarding the Subbotniks, the Russian Chief Rabbinate’s office published a halachic ruling as rendered a few years ago in the beis din headed by Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar. According to the ruling, all the Subbotniks who wish to become a part of the Jewish People must undergo a giyur l’chumrah, a conversion for stringency’s sake.


    Historical sources describe a trend whereby groups of Russian farmers, dubbed “Subbotniki,” which means “Shabbos people,” embraced Jewish tradition in the large rural areas in the districts of central Russia. Among the areas mentioned in documents are Moscow, Tula, Oryol, Ryazan, Tambov, Voronezh, Arkhangelsk, Penza, Saratov, Stavropol, and Rostov. Russian government records show that tens of thousands of people were involved in this trend. However, the movement was not at all united or organized. Apparently the agitation and increasing doubts about the principles of the Christian faith among the Subbotniks grew on an individual basis, not necessarily connected or influenced directly by the Jewish community. The political and religious regime (the Church was an integral part of the government) persecuted the converts in the cruelest fashion. They were arrested and sent for mandatory army services for decades, and those who were not fit to serve in the army were exiled to Siberia, and later on to the Caucasus and the Far East. Anyone caught spearing or preaching “Jewish religion” received especially harsh punishments. Likewise all the Jews in those areas were expelled immediately. Under such circumstances, the Russian Chief Rabbinate notes, and taking into consideration the economic situation and the blanket discrimination of the rights of Russian Jews, it is virtually certain that at the time there was no mass conversion.

    The Chief Rabbinate adds that “there is no realistic way to single out specific families and definitively determine if they are the direct (daughter after daughter) descendants of converts.

    The Rabbinate issued a halachic ruling which states that individual Subbotnikim who could prove their Judaism cannot be used to render a general ruling for the entire group. “It is known that at the end of the 1920s, a Chassidic rabbi named Chaim Liberman arrived in the village of Illinka, in the district of Voronezh, and established a slaughterhouse and the production of tzitzis. He provided kosher meat and talissos throughout Russia during the communist regime,” the beis din ruling states. “But it is understood that he came there because there was a whole community that was willing to help him and had an interest in having a certified rabbi. The rabbi engaged in activities that put his life at risk, and it is understood that he would accept any assistance that could help facilitate his work, but to use that as a proof that the people of Illinka were halachically Jewish is not conclusive. The fact that in the 1930s the villagers tried to register themselves as Jews in their Soviet passports does not alter anything halachically, and anyone who is considered to be the child of a Subbotnik mother must bring proof of Judaism or undergo a stringency conversion.”


    - Aharan Granevich-Granot contributed to this report"

    ~~~~~

    "The Jewish Press
    Friday, December 26, 2008.
    Page 36

    Russia’a Subbotnik Jews Get a Rabbi

    [Photo: Rabbi Dr. David Vinitz]

    Rabbi Dr. David Vinitz has been appointed as the new emissary of the Shavei Israel organization to the Subbotnik Jews of Russia. His mission will focus primarily on the community of Vysoky in Southern Russia and will include teaching Hebrew and Judaism, organizing prayer services and conducting a range of diverse educational activities for Subbotnik Jewish youth.

    Rabbi Vinitz, lives in Jerusalem. He speaks Hebrew, Russian and English and holds a Ph.D. in History from Irkutsk State University. In the past he served as rabbi of Irkutsk and East Siberia in Russia, and taught at the Institute for Jewish Studies.

    The saga of the Subbotnik Jews began over two centuries ago, when a group of Russian peasants converted to Judaism. They were forced to pay an extremely heavy price for their choice, including their forced expulsion by Czar Alexander I to the far reaches of the empire.

    Starting with the period of the First Aliyah more than a century ago, thousands of them moved to Israel and quickly found their niche in the heart of the pioneering efforts to settle the land.

    The current Subbotnik Jewish community is estimated to number 20,000 people throughout the former Soviet Union.

    “The dispatch of Rabbi Dr. David Vinitz as Shavei Israel’s new emissary is a result of our expansion of our activities aimed at assisting the Subbotnik Jews of Russia,” said Shavei Israel chairman and founder Michael Freund. “Over the last two centuries, the Subbotnik Jews have been an inseparable part of the history of the Jewish people and Zionism. We cannot and must not turn our backs on the remnants of this very special community, particularly after all that they have endured,” said Freund. “Otherwise, they will assimilate and disappear as Jews, and for that, history would never forgive us"."

    For more information visit www.shavei.org"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 16, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    Michael Freund of Shavei Israel and Leib Tropper of EJF: The race is on between the two great Orthodox proselytizers of modern times!

    Michael Freund in the news again, this time it's about waxing lyrical about Anusim and them making "kosher" cheese

    As reported on Vos Iz Neias.com:

    "Portugal - Descendant Of 'Anusim' Make First Kosher Cheese

    Published on: February 15th, 2009
    News Source: Haaretz

    Portugal - Descendant Of 'Anusim' Make First Kosher Cheese

    Portugal - For the first time since the Spanish Inquisition in Portugal, a dairy product has been given an official kosher certificate. The ground-breaking product is a hard, goat's milk cheese, manufactured by the descendant of Anusim (Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity).

    Last year, Jose Braz, owner of the Queijos Braz factory, contacted Daniel Litwak, the chief rabbi of Portugal's second-largest city, Porto, and asked him to arrange a kashrut certificate for Serra da Estrala cheese, which Braz manufactures. Braz believes that his own family were members of Portugal's Jewish community in the 14th and 15th centuries, but like many others were forced to convert to escape persecution by the Inquisition.

    "When I spoke to Jose, he told me he wanted to reconnect to his Jewish roots - this was the reason for contacting me," says Litwak, who was born in Argentina. "I was surprised because his brand was doing rather nicely all over Europe. He did not need the certificate to increase his turnover."

    New York-born Michael Freund, the chairman of Shavei Israel, a Jerusalem-based organization that helps people with Jewish roots become more involved in their Jewish community, who immigrated to Israel some 10 years ago, told Haaretz that Portugal "is seeing a Jewish revival over the past few years."

    "Recently, the first kosher wine in Portugal since the Inquisition has become available, then the first olive oil and now the cheese," Freund says. "I see a definite connection between how many of the Anusim are rediscovering their roots and the increased interest"."

    ReplyDelete
  6. First of all, I have been to Ilyinka, there are 2 woman left, one of the ladies has a picture of her father, the picture is a man with a beird and hat, looks like a normal Jew.
    She remembers the rabbi who was there before the war, (name r'zalman, NOT r'Chaim), she is actually friends with his daughter who lives in Voronezh.
    She actually told me part of her life story, her mother passed away very young, so her father used to father her, her sister used to go to the girls class, r'zalman used to teach them yidish, and torah, she was younger, and father used to stay at home in the morning and daven in the morning with his tefilin for like an hour, he was frum, and she remembers every single thing he did, i cant imagine a Russian who is not Jewish ever thinking of these things.
    R'zalman used to do Milah, mikvah, everything needed for the local Jewish people.
    Forsure, we need to know how those people ended up in Ilyinka, but at the time, everyone (besides a few Russians who lived at the outskirts of the town), were forsure Jewish.

    People who lived in Ilyinka claim that the people in Vysoki were Jewish, but they were much less relgiuos...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Recipients and PublicityMarch 19, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    (New post)

    Mishpacha magazine for hire continues to promote agenda of Michael Freund and Shavei Israel proselytizing organization.

    Mishpacha magazine for hire poses danger to Torah true hashkofas by not teaching about Kiddush Hashem when Jews are obligated to sacrifice their lives for Yiddishkeit and not become Christians, Catholics or Communists.

    Shavei Israel digs for converts in Poland and elsewhere in the guise of "hidden Jews" who will in any case require GIUR KEHALACHA LECHUMRA.

    As in the case of the Russian Subbotniks, the status of gentiles seeking to become Jews in Poland, as many as 150,000+, poses a threat to Israel as long as the Israeli Chief rabbinate does not affirm its position and leaves it up to Michael Freund to set the agenda.


    Read the latest article first, with later comments and analysis starting with "RaP":

    [Note from “RaP”: First person narratives have been minimized for reasons of space using “…” to focus on historical events, activities of rabbis, Shavei Israel and its head Michael Freund.]

    "Mishpacha
    Jewish Family Weekly
    Issue 248
    1 Adar 5769 – 2.25.09
    Pages: 32-35

    [Cover photo of a man with yarmulka walking alongside railway tracks deep in thought seen through barbed wire]

    [Cover headline: DEATHBED CONFESSIONS: Poland’s Jews Come Out Of hiding]

    [Table of contents summary: OUT OF HIDING: Ruchama Paz and Rachel Ginzberg:

    Deathbed confessions from guilt-ridden grandparents, combined with a reemergence of Jewish pride, have created a groundswell of self-discovery among Poland’s Jews – thousands of young people are reclaiming their Jewish roots.]

    “Lost and Found in Poland
    By Ruchama Paz and Rachel Ginsberg

    [Bold: For Poland’s Jews, the collective memory of pogroms, concentration camps, and death marches convinced survivors that it was safer to blend into the Polish Catholic scenery than to identify as Jews. Today, death-bed confessions from guilt-ridden grandparents, combined with a re-emergence of Jewish pride, have created a groundswell of self-discovery – thousands of young people are reclaiming their Jewish roots]

    [Photo: David, Adam, and Mordechai, visiting Israel last summer, each underwent a giur lechumra – conversion in case of doubt, after finding out that their grandparents were Jews. Photos: Ouria Tadmor and Michael Freund]

    Long Memories: Jewish Poland is reemerging. Not since the end of World War II have so many Poles discovered their Jewishness – let alone dared publicize it.
    …On July 4, 1946, a pogrom broke out in Kielce targeting 200 Holocaust survivors who’d returned to their homes in this town in central Poland. Thirty-seven Kielce residents were murdered, as were two Jews passing through by train.

    The pogrom was a clear exit sign for the 250,000 Polish Jews who’d survived the Holocaust – 250,000 out of the 3.5 million who’d lived in Poland before the war…
    Still, some 150,000 survivors remained on the shaky Polish fence awaiting better days. But not may years passed before a whole generation of Jewish survivors had gone underground.

    The anti-Zionist campaign of high-ranking official Wladislaw Gomolka in 1968 impelled the rest to discard their Jewish identity – which they viewed as burdensome and life-threatening – and to live as mainstream Catholic Poles.

    The Secret Revealed:…Now that communism’s influence is waning and it’s no longer a curse to be Jewish, Jews and their descendants are beginning to end their historic silence and return to Judaism. Sometimes these are children of a Jewish mother or grandmother, or sons and grandsons of a Jewish father and grandfather.

    [Photo: Israel Chief rabbi Yona Metzger with newly-discovered Jews in Wroclaw, Poland: Every case is judged individually]

    “It’s a tragic, yet fascinating phenomenon,” says Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, an organization dedicated to locating communities of “lost Jews.”
    “First you have the Jews who survived the Holocaust but hid their Jewishness from the communist authorities. Then you have the many cases of Jewish children adopted by Catholic families and institutions during the Holocaust. We’re seeing more and more deathbed confessions, in which adoptive parents will, perhaps out of guilt or out of a need to put the record straight, finally tell their adoptive children, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re Jewish.’”

    “The issue is very complex, because today many of these rediscovered Jews can’t prove their Jewish ancestry,” Freund continues. “There was a lost second generation, but now the third generation is rediscovering its Jewish roots. Grandparents are divulging the family secret before it’s too late. We’re not missionaries. Our organization is here to provide solutions. For those interested in halachic conversion, we send them to the proper rabbinic authorities. For those who just want to learn more, we try to provide them with positive Jewish experiences.”
    Shavei Israel leaves the halachic aspect of each case to Israel’s Chief rabbinate. “Each case has its own set of evidence, its own level of proof or reliability,” Freund explains. “Is the Jewish line from the mother or the father? What kind of proof is there? These are things for a beis din to decide.”

    Too Late for Change?: What happens when someone makes the astonishing discovery of his Jewishness after living the tranquil life of a Catholic Pole?

    David, a resident of Lodz who visited Israel last summer with a group organized by Shavei Israel, had uncovered his Jewishness just months before.

    …Mordechai, from Gdansk, knows for sure that his great-great-grandmother – his grandmother’s grandmother – became an apostate in Lvov, after suffering persecutions and rioting. She emigrated from Ukraine to Poland and settled in Gdansk, taking on a Christian identity.

    “When I first arrived in Poland, I knew that this phenomenon existed,” says Poland’s Chief rabbi Michael Shudrich. “But I could never have imagined how widespread it was. In the seventies, when communist regime was at the height of its power, I came to Poland for short visits. That’s when I heard people saying that, along with the thousands of lone Jews who were known, many more were hidden. During the communist era, especially after 1968, it was hard to find a self-declared Jew…

    “I’d be making a conservative estimate if I say that we’re talking about a widespread phenomenon, encompassing tens of thousands of people in Poland,” Rabbi Shudrich says. “As the years go by, that trickle is turning into a stream. As people feel more confident, they’re less afraid to present their identity.”

    …[Bold: The Jewish survival instinct dictated that whoever wanted to live out his life in peace, on Polish soil, was better off not identifying himself as a Jew]

    [Photo: When Pavel discovered he was Jewish, “no news could have been worse”]

    …Who Am I?: In 1986, glasnost reached Poland, and the hidden Polish Jews began peeking out of the bunkers, fearfully at first, but later with increasing confidence.

    …[Bold: “We’re seeing more and more deathbed confessions, in which adoptive parents finally tell their adoptive children, ‘Oh by the way, you’re Jewish’” – Michael Freund]

    [Photo: David: “Until age eighteen, I didn’t know anything about the Jewish People”]

    …Jewish Is “In”: In an interesting about-face, Jewish culture has become somewhat fashionable. In Krakow, where there are just 157 registered Jews, who are mostly old and infirm, “Jewish-style” is the height of chic. The brightly colored ”Jewish-style” restaurants dotting the city’s maze of streets and courtyards are about “as Jewish as a bacon sandwich at a Chassidic wedding,” Chris Shwartz, founder and director of the district’s Galicia Jewish Museum, told the UK Independent. Klezmer music festivals and cafes serving chopped liver, cholent, kishke, and a selection of sweet Kiddush wines are aimed at Jewish American and Israeli tourists, but they’ve charmed the Polish youth as well.
    “Today in Poland there is a fascination with all things Jewish,” says Freund. “This makes it easier for the ‘hidden Jews’ to emerge.”

    While official figures list only 4,000 Jews residing in Poland, another roughly 30,000 are just beginning to discover their true identity.

    …Homegrown Talent: Rabbi Mati Pawlak, 29, is the first Polish-born rabbi in forty years. And for the first half of his life he had no idea he was Jewish.
    When Pawlak was fourteen, his mother – who had always “inexplicably” kept him out of Catholicism classes at school – told him he was a Jew. She herself, born after the war, never received any form of Jewish education from her parents, survivors of the Holocaust determined to shield their daughter from a fate similar to theirs.

    Like many Jews in communist Poland, Rabbi Pawlak’s family kept their heritage hidden for decades, acknowledging their Judaism only after the 1989 collapse of communism. Pawlak then began to explore Judaism at Jewish camps and at the synagogue in his home town of Szczecin, a search that culminated with his graduation from New York’s Yeshiva University.
    Today, Pawlak is the principal of Warsaw’s only Jewish school. Lauder-Morasha, and officiates at Warsaw’s Nozyk synagogue.

    Although twenty-first
    century “hidden Jews” feel safer publicly acknowledging their Jewishness, the older generation retains the fear of postwar Poland. Maya Lashinsky, 80, was her family’s sole survivor of the death camps. After the war she returned to her hometown but felt that blending into the Polish landscape was her safest option. She married a Polish non-Jew and had three children, who are halachically Jewish but know nothing of even the basics of Judaism.

    Today, Maya has begun attending synagogue and wears a big Magen David around her neck. But what about her children?

    “You weren’t there,” she told a Shavei Israel delegation. “You don’t understand and you never will!”■ “

    ~~~~~

    Comments starting with "RaP":

    “[Cover photo of a man with yarmulka walking alongside railway tracks deep in thought seen through barbed wire]”

    RaP: Notice all the hype. Barbed wire and rail tracks are presumably supposed to conjure up images of the Holocaust and connecting that with the Poles who are coming out of the woodwork and claiming to be Jews, counting on an emotional rather than a rational and HALACHIC and most importantly the CORRECT TORAH HASHKOFA in response to the entire matter.

    “[Cover headline: DEATHBED CONFESSIONS: Poland’s Jews Come Out Of hiding]

    [Table of contents summary: OUT OF HIDING: Ruchama Paz and Rachel Ginzberg: Deathbed confessions from guilt-ridden grandparents, combined with a reemergence of Jewish pride, have created a groundswell of self-discovery among Poland’s Jews – thousands of young people are reclaiming their Jewish roots.]”

    “Lost and Found in Poland
    By Ruchama Paz and Rachel Ginsberg”

    RaP: Note how many ways the heading is spun. Can’t this story have one heading? In addition who are Ruchama Paz and Rachel Ginsberg, it’s time to know. In the Mishpacha article about the Subbotniks, “Rachel Ginsberg” was also involved but the name that time was spelled “Ginsburg” – at any rate, they need to be indentified because by the time this article is over they will have been responsible for writing and spinning a piece that is VERY controversial because of the proselytization and reaching out to people who are not Halachik Jews.

    “[Bold: For Poland’s Jews, the collective memory of pogroms, concentration camps, and death marches convinced survivors that it was safer to blend into the Polish Catholic scenery than to identify as Jews. Today, death-bed confessions from guilt-ridden grandparents, combined with a re-emergence of Jewish pride, have created a groundswell of self-discovery – thousands of young people are reclaiming their Jewish roots]”

    RaP: The statement that “…death marches convinced survivors that it was safer to blend into the Polish Catholic scenery than to identify as Jews” is an outright violation of what Halachah and Hashkafa teaches. Where does it say in either Halacha or Hashkafa that it is permitted for Jews to “blend into” any Christian or other religion? Would this be taught in a yeshiva or bais yaakov or by any Orthodox Jew? Mishpacha magazine has forgotten its responsibility here and has allowed two young ladies to formulate statements that are not what classical Judaism teaches, and that is that when Jews are confronted with the choice of taking on another religion, certainly if it is by force then they must rather give their lives and if not they have sinned and become meshumadim and cannot be allowed into Klal Yisroel without a bais din’s approval. Has Mishpacha magazine forgotten the din of yeherag ve’al ya’avor and what the Talmud and the Rambam have to say about this, that under conditions of shmad Jews must give their lives rather than submit to or choose the cross, yet this is exactly what Mishpacha and these writers are advocating. Have they forgotten what is taught to frum children about how Chana and her seven sons chose death rather than bow down to the Greek idols and how about those brave Jews who rather than converting to Christianity chose to walk out of Spain in 1492 at the risk of losing their lives not to mention how millions of Jews went to the gas chambers and sure death singing Ani Ma’amin, and never were meshumadim glorified at any time!

    “[Photo: David, Adam, and Mordechai, visiting Israel last summer, each underwent a giur lechumra – conversion in case of doubt, after finding out that their grandparents were Jews. Photos: Ouria Tadmor and Michael Freund]”

    RaP: Ok, so here we go. If these people need GIUR LECHUMRA it means that they are NOT Jews, period, no ifs ands or buts, no matter how emotional and sad their tale and yet again one must ask why Michael Freund has taken it upon himself to bring gentiles, with tangential and Halachically inconsequential connections to Jews and Judaism “back into the fold”? Let theme stay on the outside because there are enough problems on the inside with sure Jews from birth.

    “Long Memories: Jewish Poland is reemerging. Not since the end of World War II have so many Poles discovered their Jewishness”

    RaP: Note this word “Jewishness” what is it exactly. It’s being used as a new kind of word for “Jewish but not Jewish” because there is no such thing as “Jewishness” since one is either Jewish or nor Jewish, a Jew or a gentile, but there is no such animal as a person who has a status of “Jewishness” and this is just Mishpacha acting as Shavei Israel’s unwitting propagandist.

    “– let alone dared publicize it.…On July 4, 1946, a pogrom broke out in Kielce targeting 200 Holocaust survivors who’d returned to their homes in this town in central Poland. Thirty-seven Kielce residents were murdered, as were two Jews passing through by train. The pogrom was a clear exit sign for the 250,000 Polish Jews who’d survived the Holocaust – 250,000 out of the 3.5 million who’d lived in Poland before the war…Still, some 150,000 survivors remained on the shaky Polish fence awaiting better days. But not many years passed before a whole generation of Jewish survivors had gone underground. The anti-Zionist campaign of high-ranking official Wladislaw Gomolka in 1968 impelled the rest to discard their Jewish identity – which they viewed as burdensome and life-threatening – and to live as mainstream Catholic Poles.”

    RaP: Again, this makes it all sound very noble, that they “went underground” when it was not. And please note that JUDAISM FORBIDS ITS ADHERENTS FROM LIVING AS "MAINSTREAM CATHOLIC" anythings -- upon pain of excommunication when they should rather have chosen martyrdom. Many of these people were probably already very deeply assimilated into Polish society unlike the majority of Jews who were not and were killed in the Holocaust. Many were probably ardent Communists and hid their identity during the war by either fleeing or going into deep hiding and had no desire to be in touch with the Jewish people. With the fall of Communism many of the Polish gentiles have been blaming them for Poland’s fall into the hands of the Communist USSR and now they are seeking to escape. It’s not really as “romantic” as Mishpacha or Michael Freund make it out to be.

    “The anti-Zionist campaign of high-ranking official Wladislaw Gomolka in 1968 impelled the rest to discard their Jewish identity – which they viewed as burdensome and life-threatening – and to live as mainstream Catholic Poles.”

    RaP: Again these dangerous, anti-Halachic and 100% wrong Hashkafa lines as Mishpacha forgets that they have a responsibility to point out that from a Torah true perspective, these people were doing the absolute wrong thing that no Torah Jew would want to teach their own children. In a Torah classroom, a rebbe or a morah would never get up and say that “today we will learn that if communists or Christians pop up and make life hard for you, just go along with them and become a communist or Christian” or whatever flavor of the month heretic you like, and it’s ok, and you’ll be heroes one day as you will get articles about yourselves” chas vesholom – no the correct thing that Torah Jews are taught is that you MUST give your life when it is such a situation when you are being FORCED to become a communist or Christian, and if you don’t, just look at what becomes of you, you will become a meshumad or an apikores and you will be cut of from the Jewish People, r”l.

    “The Secret Revealed:…Now that communism’s influence is waning and it’s no longer a curse to be Jewish, Jews and their descendants are beginning to end their historic silence and return to Judaism. Sometimes these are children of a Jewish mother or grandmother, or sons and grandsons of a Jewish father and grandfather.”

    RaP: It’s a nightmare, but why must Shavei Israel and Michael Freund make it his business to go looking for these people, when from quite a few of the stories it’s clear that like all regular gerim, if they are motivated they will do the search on their own to become Halachic Jews?

    “[Photo: Israel Chief rabbi Yona Metzger with newly-discovered Jews in Wroclaw, Poland: Every case is judged individually]”

    RaP: How about getting an official statement of policy and guidelines from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate about all this rather than just posed photos that are neither here nor there.

    “It’s a tragic, yet fascinating phenomenon,” says Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, an organization dedicated to locating communities of “lost Jews.” First you have the Jews who survived the Holocaust but hid their Jewishness from the communist authorities. Then you have the many cases of Jewish children adopted by Catholic families and institutions during the Holocaust. We’re seeing more and more deathbed confessions, in which adoptive parents will, perhaps out of guilt or out of a need to put the record straight, finally tell their adoptive children, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re Jewish.’”
    “The issue is very complex, because today many of these rediscovered Jews can’t prove their Jewish ancestry,” Freund continues."

    RaP: Freund is flooding us with lots of different scenarios, and as if he is the only one capable of digesting it. And why can’t he understand the significance of his own words, that if they “can’t prove” that they are Jews then they are GENTILES and no amount of bandying the word “Jewishness” about helps anything!

    “There was a lost second generation, but now the third generation is rediscovering its Jewish roots. Grandparents are divulging the family secret before it’s too late. We’re not missionaries. Our organization is here to provide solutions. For those interested in halachic conversion, we send them to the proper rabbinic authorities. For those who just want to learn more, we try to provide them with positive Jewish experiences.”

    RaP: Wrong! You are missionaries because you are proselytizing to gentiles. You are not providing solution but you ARE creating problems. If people do not want halachic conversions (what other kind are there?) then why are you busy enticing gentiles with your programs? And what is this business of giving “positive Jewish experiences” to gentiles who “want to learn more” because if that is not missionizing than nothing is!

    “Shavei Israel leaves the halachic aspect of each case to Israel’s Chief rabbinate. “Each case has its own set of evidence, its own level of proof or reliability,” Freund explains. “Is the Jewish line from the mother or the father? What kind of proof is there? These are things for a beis din to decide.”

    RaP: Sure, but have you asked any notable bais din for permission to do what you are doing or do you just go out there and do your thing and then throw all the hot potatoes into the laps of the dayanim?

    “Too Late for Change?: What happens when someone makes the astonishing discovery of his Jewishness after living the tranquil life of a Catholic Pole? David, a resident of Lodz who visited Israel last summer with a group organized by Shavei Israel, had uncovered his Jewishness just months before.…Mordechai, from Gdansk, knows for sure that his great-great-grandmother – his grandmother’s grandmother – became an apostate in Lvov, after suffering persecutions and rioting. She emigrated from Ukraine to Poland and settled in Gdansk, taking on a Christian identity.”

    RaP: Just take a close look at these cases and you will see that you are dealing with pure Christians who cannot even start out proving that they are Jews, yet Shavei Israel thinks it’s doing Klal Yisrael a great favor by digging up such cases of embedded Christians and Catholics and inviting them to become Jews. Just sheer lunacy.

    “When I first arrived in Poland, I knew that this phenomenon existed,” says Poland’s Chief rabbi Michael Shudrich. “But I could never have imagined how widespread it was. In the seventies, when communist regime was at the height of its power, I came to Poland for short visits. That’s when I heard people saying that, along with the thousands of lone Jews who were known, many more were hidden. During the communist era, especially after 1968, it was hard to find a self-declared Jew…“I’d be making a conservative estimate if I say that we’re talking about a widespread phenomenon, encompassing tens of thousands of people in Poland,” Rabbi Shudrich says. “As the years go by, that trickle is turning into a stream. As people feel more confident, they’re less afraid to present their identity.”

    …[Bold: The Jewish survival instinct dictated that whoever wanted to live out his life in peace, on Polish soil, was better off not identifying himself as a Jew]”

    RaP: How could Mishpacha even publish such a statement that “The Jewish survival instinct dictated that whoever wanted to live out his life in peace, on Polish soil, was better off not identifying himself as a Jew” –when that is NOT the “Jewish survival instinct”! It may be the human or animal survival instinct to hide one’s identity but Jewish Law is more complex than that. The Rambam states that it depends on the circumstances when talking of Hilchos Kiddush Hashem, and when it’s a situation of Gezeiras Hashmad, as in the times of Nevuchadnezar, then Torah true Jews are OBLIGATED to give their lives rather than joining an alien religion or ideology. And this is precisely the lesson that Mishpacha and the writers of this articles are totally oblivious of in their haste to please their client Michale Freund and his Shavei Israel outfit in its rush to sift and search for vadai goyim whose parents and grandparents and even earlier had become outright meshumadim and/or apikorsim and were lost to the Jewish people.

    “[Photo: When Pavel discovered he was Jewish, “no news could have been worse”]
    …Who Am I?: In 1986, glasnost reached Poland, and the hidden Polish Jews began peeking out of the bunkers, fearfully at first, but later with increasing confidence.”

    RaP: Spare us the heroism, they were not in “bunkers” as if they were in the throes of war in the Holocaust. They were leading good lives and were happy as gentiles, and most still are (to the obvious chagrin of Freund), and now here and there a few of these people are getting interested in Jews and Judaism that’s become a phenomenon with many trendy gentiles.

    “…[Bold: “We’re seeing more and more deathbed confessions, in which adoptive parents finally tell their adoptive children, ‘Oh by the way, you’re Jewish’” – Michael Freund]

    [Photo: David: “Until age eighteen, I didn’t know anything about the Jewish People”]
    …Jewish Is “In”: In an interesting about-face, Jewish culture has become somewhat fashionable. In Krakow, where there are just 157 registered Jews, who are mostly old and infirm, “Jewish-style” is the height of chic. The brightly colored ”Jewish-style” restaurants dotting the city’s maze of streets and courtyards are about “as Jewish as a bacon sandwich at a Chassidic wedding,” Chris Shwartz, founder and director of the district’s Galicia Jewish Museum, told the UK Independent. Klezmer music festivals and cafes serving chopped liver, cholent, kishke, and a selection of sweet Kiddush wines are aimed at Jewish American and Israeli tourists, but they’ve charmed the Polish youth as well.”

    RaP: "Chris Schwartz" a good hybrid name. Why can’t they be left eating their treif chollents and not be dragged into Yiddishkeit by Freund and Shavei Israel?

    “Today in Poland there is a fascination with all things Jewish,” says Freund. “This makes it easier for the ‘hidden Jews’ to emerge.” While official figures list only 4,000 Jews residing in Poland, another roughly 30,000 are just beginning to discover their true identity.…”

    RaP: Sure the numbers always keep growing. 4000, then 30000 then 150000 then all or at least half or a third of all Poles will be declared full of “Jewishness” the same way they talk about Spain being half or a third or quarter “Jewish” nowadays.

    “Although twenty-first century “hidden Jews” feel safer publicly acknowledging their Jewishness, the older generation retains the fear of postwar Poland. Maya Lashinsky, 80, was her family’s sole survivor of the death camps. After the war she returned to her hometown but felt that blending into the Polish landscape was her safest option. She married a Polish non-Jew and had three children, who are halachically Jewish but know nothing of even the basics of Judaism. Today, Maya has begun attending synagogue and wears a big Magen David around her neck. But what about her children? “You weren’t there,” she told a Shavei Israel delegation. “You don’t understand and you never will!”

    RaP: This lady needs to be respectfully put in her place. What is she saying and that she knows about “Shavei Israel”, wow? Woopiedoo, she is a walking and talking advert for shmad and this is the example that Mishpacha leaves the reader with, and it’s meant to be a kind of “launch line” for Fruend who may as well be saying here “…and fear not because Shavei Israel is here to fix all that’s wrong with being a meshumad and an apikores” without any other divergent or alternate Halachic of Torah voice anywhere in sight. How sad and what an indictment of Mishpacha and its lack of chochma as it pathetically sells its journalistic soul to the highest bidder yet again.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would just like to take some time too Thank everyone for doing what you do and making the community what it is im a long time reader and first time poster so i just wanted to say thanks.

    ReplyDelete

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED!
please use either your real name or a pseudonym.