Tekst jest traktowany jako integralna całość, można go cytować, ale zgodnie z prawem z podaniem źródła, tzn. autora książki i jej tytułu, osoby udzielające wywiadu, no i tłumacza amatora:). Tłumaczenie jest moje (z pomocą Google Translate), dlatego jest pewnie w nim dużo błędów:), pro publico bono, całkowicie bez wynagrodzenia.
I am fully Polish
with Paweł Bramson
Why did you decide to appear in the documentary “The moon is a Jew” and tell about your religious and identity transformation?
That's a good question. However, it seems to me that this question should be directed to the director Michał Tkaczyński. He persuaded me to appear in the film. At first, I was completely opposed to it. I don’t remember what arguments he used then to convince me. In the end, however, he succeeded. I thought that through this movie I would be able to show other people that there are still Jews present in Poland. I also wanted to present the problem of completely assimilated Jews who either don’t know at all that they are Jewish or find out about it when their identity is practically shaped. Today I see that this film is an example that in Poland you can live a normal life, being a Jew at the same time.
Your metamorphosis, however, was quite extreme. From a hooligan of xenophobic and anti-Semitic views in the skinhead community, you became an orthodox Jew who issued kosher certificates.
Honestly, all these youth subcultures and currents in which I used to be were a springboard for me at the time. In the 1990s, during the political transformation, we still had a young democracy and we were struggling with many economic, social and political problems. We couldn’t admit that it is us Poles who are responsible for these problems. We had to blame someone for all our failures. It was just Jews. Although no-one else saw Jew at that time, the leaders of various organizations fed people with such propaganda. These were catchy slogans and therefore people accepted them and treated them as part of their worldview. Young people who are usually susceptible to indoctrination were particularly at risk of brainwashing. That is why in the 90s the skinhead movement was so strong in Poland. From that time, however, many years passed and today, from my company, maybe a few people remained with the same views that they had in the 90s. Most, however, including my acquaintances, with whom I meet, have long since emerged from these views and not only are they not anti-Semites, but they don’t even want to remember those episodes from their past. It can’t be concealed, however, that being a young man, I had nationalist views. Now my views are focused not on nationalism, but on patriotism. There is no xenophobia in me. I didn’t have anything like that at home. It was exterminated by parents. It seems to me that some xenophobic attitudes resulted from rebellion or willingness to adapt to the environment in which I was staying. Today, there isn’thing xenophobic in me.
Does being associated with a Polish woman of Jewish origin, thanks to which you have learned about your Jewish roots, read as a kind of a sign from God? As for the Jewish population in Poland, the probability of such a relationship was, after all, extremely small.
There must be something in it. I owe her much to this matter. She found our roots. I think that the Supreme had a plan to connect us and let me know that I am a Jew.
The natural end to the rebellion of a young man is usually the entry by him on a path wiped by his parents and grandparents, who in your case assimilated and adopted Catholicism. You, after discovering his Jewish roots, decided, however, to turn back from the path they had laid out. Why?
I learned that I was a Jew only at the age of more than twenty. It awakened in me the desire to know what it really means to be a Jew. So I started to read a lot about it and the more I read, the more I felt my Jewish identity and the fact that I was Jewish. However, I didn’t become religious overnight. My metamorphosis lasted about ten years before I finally started to enter Judaism seriously, pray and visit the synagogue. However, I did it consciously. I wanted this. One of the rabbis told me that all the souls of my Jewish ancestors woke up in me. Finally, the time has come for me to be able to continue our family and live with our family just as our ancestors once lived.
As for my parents, after the war there were times that favored assimilation. They were brought up so that no one would know they were Jewish. They wanted to hide their Jewish identity. I have never had the opportunity to ask my grandfather what really was his total assimilation. He died too early for me to ask if his choice was caused by fear, or whether he had other motives. My parents told me that they were brought up with the awareness that they were Jews, but also with the awareness that they shouldn’t be disclosed. You should be just a Pole. Maybe it was easier for them? I don’t know. So far, there are many Jews in Poland who know about their Jewish background, but they have become accustomed that they shouldn’t emphasize their Jewishness. They think that it isn’t necessary for them and they don’t want to change themselves. I wanted. It is better to be a real Jew than to hide from your whole world Jewishness. That would be pointless.
You wouldn’t have to hide your Jewish origin.
And who would I be then?
Perhaps a Polish Catholic having a Jewish background or just a Pole with Jewish roots?
I know that I am a Jew after my mother and father, and what next? As if I was answering the question, am I a Jew? No, I'm a Catholic?
Did you want to be fully Jewish?
There were, however, many Jews in history who, when they believed that Jesus was the Messiah they expected, abandoned Judaism and accepted Christianity without giving up their Jewish identity at the same time. Do you allow the possibility that Jesus is the Jews awaited by the Messiah?
I don’t take this into account at all. I follow the path of the Torah, the Moses' Pentateuch, called by the Christians the Old Testament. I rejected the New Testament altogether. This isn’t my story.
Was the rejection of Catholicism preceded by some insightful and deep theological reflection?
I have always argued with my father and priests that something in this New Testament doesn’t suit me. There were too many miracles there. In Catholicism, I couldn’t put a lot of things together. I didn’t find a wise priest who would be able to explain all this to me and who would give me satisfactory answers to my questions or would give me books in which I could find them. Of course, I studied both the New and the Old Testament, and how everyone went to religious school. Nothing stirred me, and I didn’t catch any religious bacillus in Catholicism, that I would become an altar boy or a person more involved in the life of the Church. I didn’t go to church every Sunday. I attended mass only on Christmas. So I wasn’t a devout Catholic. I have always believed in God, however. As a Catholic, I was simply a believer but non-practicing. Today I can’t combine one with the other, that is, faith with non-practice. You can practice everywhere. Even when driving a car, when someone suddenly gets our way and brakes at the last moment, we can thank God for that. This is a practice, a form of prayer for God. Of course, with your own words. So you can’t say that if someone doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t practice at all. He's practicing, but he often doesn’t even know it. Being a pious man, it is already studying the Bible, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a Jew, a Catholic or an Orthodox. I study the Torah and pray three times a day. At least I try. It is interesting that in the Church I wasn’t active at all, and here I am even overactive. Perhaps some part of my soul woke up and she knew: "Boy, this is yours!" When I went to the synagogue, it all became clear to me, where I found the sense of life and its purpose. I found a quiet way and the conviction that being a good person and living according to some ethical-moral judgment, I can someday repair what I did wrong.
Are you satisfied with the spiritual state of the Polish Jewish community?
It can always be better. Next question please. (laugh)
In the film about you there is a scene in which your mother has a grudge against the Lord that you didn’t enter the Catholic church for your father's funeral mass. It must have been a difficult decision for you. But couldn’t you really make an exception and enter the Catholic temple to say goodbye to your father?
No, it wasn’t a difficult decision for me. It is written that you won’t have foreign gods before me. In the church there are paintings depicting Jesus and Catholic saints. On the other hand, I didn’t enter the church out of respect for my father, priest and people who prayed there. I couldn’t kneel during a mass, cross myself, etc. If I were to sit all the time and people would kneel and get up, someone would feel offended by my attitude and would blame me for coming there. Sitting, like this peg, I could offend someone. All men take off their hats in the church, and I can’t take off my hat. Also, how would I look like? I did so out of respect for these people and out of respect for my father who, being a Catholic, was also fully aware that he was Jewish. I have often told him to accept Judaism. He told me that Moses was 90 years old, so he still has some time. So I told him OK, your business. As for my mother, she couldn’t understand that if someone has a different faith and other religious commandments, he can’t do something. If something is forbidden, it is forbidden. If something can be done, sometimes you can turn a blind eye to it. In this case, however, you can’t. There are certain behaviors that I can’t do. Not everyone can understand this, however.
Did your siblings also find a Jewish identity?
I have three brothers. Maybe only one of them found a little Jewish identity. In any case, one of them is a Catholic who goes to church. The other two are not very practicing. They were simply brought up like the majority of Polish society and are coasting. They celebrate Christmas, but mainly because of tradition.
Do you meet with them during Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter?
No, only they meet each other. They are aware of who I am. They meet with me either before or after the holidays. We are doing a family reunion at the time. We also meet at birthdays. Sometimes they come to me for Sabbath suppers. They don’t have a problem with that. They came for my Jewish wedding as well as for the my bar mitzvah and bar mitzvah of my children. They live in a kind of gap. However, I am not imposing anything on them. Everyone has free will. I don’t like talking about religion, because that's the private sphere of every human being. I believe that if someone believes, he believes and that's his business.
Don’t your views on this subject sometimes stem from the fact that Judaism isn’t a missionary religion?
Atheists are trying to prove to others that there is no God, and possibly they want someone to convince them that they really are. How can you convince someone that God exists? No one has ever seen God, and last time someone had heard him a few thousand years ago.
Considering that before the war about 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland, the involvement of the Jewish community in communism should be considered a completely marginal phenomenon. On the other hand, there is no doubt that after the war, people of Jewish origin were overrepresented among the communists. According to prof. Andrzej Paczkowski they occupied 29%. management positions in the Security Office. What do you think about the stereotype common among Poles: so-called Judeo-communism?
I can’t say that there was or wasn’t. This should be expressed by historians who can confirm or deny this. The claim that it wasn’t Poles who accepted communism, but imposed on us by foreign, Russian or Jewish authorities, is an obvious lie. As a man delves into history, he will find out that we ourselves are responsible for almost fifty-year communist governments in Poland. Of course, the Jews took part in building People's Republic of Poland after the war, but they were Polish citizens and patriots who wanted to do something for the state, even if they were to do it through communism. However, not all Jews took part in it. Therefore, the repetition of the Judeo-communism slogan serves us again to say that it wasn’t us, but the Jews who imposed communism on us. I can only say about my story. My grandfather was a soldier of the Home Army, and later an officer of the People's Army in the rank of a colonel. In 1968, however, he was thrown out of the army for Jewish origin. This commune wasn’t really a Judeo-communism. Perhaps it was at the beginning of building communism in Poland, but later, however, the Poles themselves continued it. So I think that through the myth of the Judeo-communism Poles want to throw off some of their responsibility for what happened to Poland. We want everyone to say that we poor Poles have been harmed by Jews, Russians, communists, Germans, etc. Poles have already forgotten that the our Republic was almost always a multicultural and multi-religious state. We have lived with us on Polish soil for so many years and this co-existence hasn’t disturbed anyone. Now, however, it started to affect people. They began to look for differences between themselves, found them and divided into groups that opposed each other.
Bearing in mind the diversity you present, it's hard not to ask who you feel?
I am the same Pole as you, only that instead of going to church, I go to the synagogue and celebrate other holidays. Is Pole must be a white Catholic? Probably yes, that's the stereotype. Probably the majority would want Poland to be a Christian state. OK, I don’t mind, but I was born here. My grandfathers took part in all wars and uprisings. I also served in the Polish army myself. My brother, too.
Very many Jews served in the Polish army. The Jewish descent had, among others such generals Polish Army him like Bernard Mond, Wilhelm Orlik-Rückemann, or Jakub Krzemieński, who was also the president of the Supreme Military Court and the president of the Supreme Audit Office. Captain Mieczysław Birnbaum, also decorated with the Virtuti Militari cross and the Cross of Valor, Lieutenant Colonel Maksymilian Landau murdered by the NKVD in Kharkov; anti-communist activist Lieutenant Colonel Wacław Lipiński, who died in a communist prison; Major Janusz Korczak, or the senior sergeant of the Polish Army and major NSZ, Stanisław Ostwind-Zuzga, sentenced by communists to death and executed. You could exchange similar examples for a long time. In 1938, about 6% of soldiers in the Polish Army had Jewish origins. Out of a million Polish soldiers mobilized in 1939, the Jewish origin was to have about 10 percent, hence about 100,000. people. You can also find information according to which, at that time, Jewish origin wasn’t 100, but 120, and even 150 thousand of Polish soldiers and officers. Some, in turn, believe that there are already 100,000 people are an inflated number. As if it wasn’t, in 1939, about 60,000 Polish soldiers of Jewish origin were to be taken prisoner by the Germans, and about 20,000 to Soviet slavery.
The president of the Association of Jewish War Veterans Fighting in the Polish Army Units in Israel, Beniamin Majerczak, who himself participated in the defense of Warsaw in 1939, completed a list of over 7,000 people, including 100 officers of Jewish origin who fell during the September campaign. Of course, this isn’t a complete list. In any event, the approximately 100,000 Jews serving in the Polish Army, the Polish state guaranteed during their service to religious freedom. I don’t know if they were served kosher food, but they could make a military oath in line with their confession, and could attend the synagogue and celebrate Jewish religious holidays. They also had military rabbis, including the chief rabbi of the Polish Army, Baruch Steinberg, whom the Soviets murdered in Katyn. What is worth mentioning, despite such a large number of soldiers of Jewish origin serving in the Polish army, we didn’t have a Polish version of the Dreyfus affair. Another thing is that even excellent knowledge of the Polish language to appropriate education, extensive experience and skills, as well as faithful service didn’t guarantee the Jews' confession of making a great military career. In order to be able to climb the rungs, they usually have to change their religion. Otherwise, they often came across a glass ceiling. It resulted from identifying religion with nationality. Baptism was therefore synonymous with full polonization and thus opened them the door to promotion. Maybe it would change over time, but the war broke out. This doesn’t mean, of course, that in the Second Polish Republic there were no officers professing Judaism in the Polish Army. They were. Their path of advancement to high positions, however, was more difficult than the way their Catholic colleagues had to pass. The same is true even today in Georgia, but only that in Georgia, Georgian is considered to be fully Georgian who believes in Orthodoxy. In order to make a career in Georgian public administration or in the Georgian army, the Georgian Catholic must be usually re-baptized first, because Georgian Orthodox clergy don’t recognize Catholic baptism.
Returning, however, to the Jews in the Polish army. Tomasz Gąsowski reports that 706 soldiers and 132 Jewish officers, or 1.5 percent of all soldiers, fought in the fighting in Italy in the Second Corps of the Anders Army. They even had their own rabbi, Pinkas Rosengarten. Until today, at Monte Cassino, but also on almost all war cemeteries, where Polish soldiers rest, you can find graves with the star of David. Soldiers of Jewish origin fought not only in the Anders Army. In the army of Zygmunt Berling - who according to one source was a Polonised Jew, and according to others, an anti-Semite, which isn’t at all contradictory, as evidenced by the example of a member of the National Unity Camp and the commissioner of the Jewish Order Service in the Warsaw ghetto, Józef Szeryński - was to serve from around 440 to over 1000 Jews. Their exact number, however, is difficult to estimate, because they often changed their names to Polish ones. As for the People's Army, about 10 percent of Jews were to serve in it. In the Polish People's Army, it was supposed to be around 20,000, that is about 5% of the total number of all soldiers. In the years 1945-1949, the LWP was to even have its chief rabbi, David Kahane, who survived the war thanks to the help of Greek Catholic clerics. Later, he was even the chief rabbi of the Israeli Air Force. As you can see, the Jews served almost in every armed formation in which Poles fought. They also fought in almost every army in the world and on each side of the front. According to an American historian of Jewish origin, Bryan Marek Rigg, in the army of the Third Reich, which had about 17 million soldiers served about 150 thousand Jews, and therefore less than 1 percent. Of course, these are people who were considered Jews according to the racist Nuremberg Laws. Among those 150,000 soldiers, approx. 60 thousand it was half-Jewish, 90,000 quarter-Jews, and 5,000 to 10,000 it was supposed to be total Jews. The Jewish origin was to have twenty-one generals, seven Admirals and one field marshal. Of course, even half-Jews were thrown out of the German army, but luckily, it was impossible to verify the origin of all soldiers. Those who knew their origin hungerfully hid them, hoping that it wouldn’t be possible. Paradoxically, it is the service of the German army that has saved many lives from many of them. Most of the Jewish soldiers of Jewish origin, however, didn’t know what was happening to the Jews in the concentration camps. Only a few were involved in the final solution of the Jewish question. An example of such a person is a convict for war crimes in Nuremberg, field marshal Erhard Milch.
Among those 150,000 German soldiers were also those who didn’t know about their Jewish origin at all. In contrast to Polish Jews, German Jews were almost completely assimilated. They confessed Christianity and regarded themselves as true Germans. Some of them even adored Hitler, who in turn handed over several thousand certificates of German blood to them personally. However, there were cases when the Jews who fought in the Third Reich were later fighting in 1948 for the independence of Israel. Some of them even come to Germany for the reunions of Vermacht veterans and collect German pensions. The fact that people of Jewish origin served in the army of Hitler, however, doesn’t prove anything. Finally, during the WW2, many Poles were incorporated into the Wermacht. There were even such situations that took place on the battlefields of WW1, when the Poles fought against each other on opposite sides of the front. The case of the grandfather Donald Tusk, Józef Tusk, who was incorporated into the Wermacht at the end of the war was used in the presidential campaign in 2005, was therefore not an exception. Approximately 375 thousand Poles and Polish citizens were recruited into the army of Hitler, which was about 2% of the total number of soldiers of the Wermacht. Of those 375 thousand, 150 thousand it was citizens of the Third Reich of Polish origin, and 225 thousand it was citizens of the Second Polish Republic.
The fact that I also served in the Polish army doesn’t make me a better or worse Pole. However, Poland is my only homeland. Not every Jew is an Israeli and not every Israeli is a Jew. When God gave the Jews the land of Israel, he told them to settle on it. God, however, threw us out of it, because we defiled it and didn’t keep our commandments. Some say that the state of Israel arose because God wanted us to return there. I don’t quite agree with this, because if God really wanted to, then there would be no war and no one would fight with them.
Is Poland a special place for Jews?
Yes, of course. It was here that the largest Judaic colleges were established, it was here that the greatest Jewish rabbis and tzadiks were active, of which we learn from books to this day.
From Poland, sometimes called the homeland of Jewish mysticism, there are such personalities of the Jewish world as HaBaal Szem Tow called the Master of the Holy Name, Dow-Ber from Międzyrzec called the Great Magid, Jakub Icchak Horowitz called the Seer of Lublin, Izrael Hapstein called Magidem from Kozienice, Chaim from Wołożyno, tzaddik Icchak Meir Alter from Góra Kalwaria and many, many others. It was in Poland that was founded in 1930 by Rabbi Majer Jehuda Szapire, Lublin School of Wise Men (Jeszywas Chachmej Lublin), which is the largest Talmudic university in the world. It was in Krakow that Sarah Szenirer had the first Jewish orthodox school for girls in the world. Until 2003, Izrael Meir Lau, born in Piotrków Trybunalski, was the head rabbi of Israel. Despite the fact that every year thousands of Hasids from all over the world come to Leżajsk to the grave of tzaddik Elimelech Weissblu on every anniversary of his death, in fact the ties between Jews and Poland are getting weaker. To change this, Krzysztof Kłopotowski suggests, for example, to bring half a million Jews to Israel from Poland, who would bring with them contacts, money, talents and a strong lobby in Washington that would ensure Poland's security. Of course, he is rather interested in secular Jews, not Orthodox Jews. In any case, thanks to their presence, we would become a regional power again, as in the Jagiellonian era. In exchange for hospitality, the Jews would develop the economy for us. Only a small number of Muslims, a low level of anti-Semitism and the Church's desire for dialogue with Judaism would encourage them to settle in Poland.
A similar idea, with the return of 3 million 300,000 Jews to Poland, was presented as part of a series of three films entitled "I will amaze Europe”, Israeli artist Yael Bartana. As part of this artistic project, Wilhelm Sasnal painted the emblem of the so-called JudeoPolonia - An eagle joined with the star of David, the Congress of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland was organized even in Berlin in 2012. A person who in this artistic project, like Kazimierz Wielki urges Jews to return to Poland, is a left-wing activist of Krytyka Polityczna, Sławomir Sierakowski, who shares in this film the tragic fate of the first Polish President, Gabriel Narutowicz, who soon after elected him to the office of the president, among others thanks to the votes of national minorities gathered by Yitzhak Grünbaum, he was murdered by Eligiusz Niewiadomski. Sierakowski's funeral ceremony takes place - as part of this artistic project - at the Piłsudski Square in Warsaw. I have quoted these ideas and artistic imaginations to you, as they are formulated both on the right and on the left side of the political and ideological scenes. Is the rebirth of Jewish life in Poland possible at all?
It would be nice if there was such a rebirth. Once I even had such fantasies to rebuild Jewish life in Poland. I don’t know if you can build anything on the ruins. There is too much martyrdom in Poland. There isn’t even a place where Jews could be settled. Even in these small towns there are mass graves of Jews, at which newcomers would rather not live. In addition, the problem of where to build a synagogue, a yeshiva etc. would arise. Maybe, however, some migration of Jews to Poland will be one day and they will live and work here? I would like it to be so.
We are currently located in the former Jewish quarter, which was part of the Warsaw Ghetto during the war. Do you sometimes move around the streets with the eyes of imagination to pre-war Warsaw, where the Jews made up about 30 percent. residents? In the end, Warsaw was such an important place for many Jews that Rabbi Hillel Seidman - as Anna Ciałowicz once remembered - even stated that the Messiah, awaited by the Jews, would appear in Warsaw's Nalewki.
To jest trudne pytanie. Najczęściej o tym nie myślę. Nie raz jednak, jak stanę i spojrzę na wyrysowaną na chodniku linię oznaczającą mur getta, to pomyślę o tym. Czasami nawet zażartuję, mówiąc do kolegi: „Uważaj, przechodzimy na aryjską stronę!". Ponieważ nie żyłem w tamtych czasach, to staram się nie utożsamiać z tamtym światem. Dlatego też podchodzę do tych rzeczy z dużym dystansem. Jeżeli ciągle będziemy żyć tamtymi czasami i powtarzać w kółko, jak było źle, tragicznie i niedobrze, to popadniemy w stan permanentnej mentalnej depresji albo będziemy ciągle chodzili sfrustrowani i źli na tych, którzy to zrobili. Było, to było. Trzeba żyć dalej.
It is a difficult question. I don’t think about it most often. Not once, however, when I stand and look at the line marked on the pavement marking the ghetto wall, I will think about it. Sometimes I even joke, telling my friend: "Watch out, we're going to the Aryan side!" Because I wasn’t living in those days, I try not to identify with that world. Therefore, I approach these things with great distance. If we still live those times and repeat over and over again, how bad, tragic and unfortunate it is, we will end up in a state of permanent mental depression or we will constantly be frustrated and angry with those who have done it. It was what it was. You have to live on.
So how to talk about the Holocaust today?
It seems to me that one should first of all speak the truth. You can’t lie or hide something. There were blackmailers and we can’t help it. Did you say that they weren’t going to change anything. In the upbringing of successive generations? As for the Righteous, their glorification should never end. Let us remember that the situation in which they found themselves together with their families isn’t understood by anyone but Poles. The French, Italians and English for the help of the Jews didn’t threaten the death penalty like the Poles. For helping and hiding Jews by one Polish family, the Germans were able to burn the whole village and murder all men. Where was it similar? Nowhere, however, the world doesn’t understand it at all. Few people know what punishments there were in Poland. Several hundred Poles were murdered for murdering a German. Round-ups were commonplace. Does anyone talk about how it was then in Poland? No. And that's why nobody knows about it in Europe and in the world today.
Isn’t talking about it sometimes the role of Polish Jews saved by Poles?
They are talking about it, but it isn’t being made public.
Do you notice anti-Polishism among Jews?
Unfortunately, yes, but I'm fighting him. I say to such a person: "Listen, you live in Poland and you complain. If you don’t like it here, then you should pack up and leave. And if you have no place to go, thank God for having something to eat, health services and a roof over your head. If you are anti-Polish and you live in Poland, you are simply an idiot! ". A colleague once asked a question to his rabbi: "What is it like to be a Zionist and live outside of Israel? ". He replied, "This is Zionism in a wheelchair." If you are a patriot, you live in your country. My son is increasingly beginning to think and see patriotism. He, like me, is going to Legia for a “razor”. He listens to various texts there and then brings them home. I explain to him then that we must thank God that we have peace in Poland and that there is no war. There are people who shout that they are a patriot, they cut their heads on a bald, put on white and red scarves, go to the Independence March, and then meet them on the same day at the airport and see them get on the plane with the Polish flag and return to London to work. If they are patriots, why pay taxes there instead of here?! It would be hard for me to be such a patriot who comes to Poland only at rallies and marches, only to prove to myself and others that I am a patriot and then return abroad. It stinks a bit of hypocrisy. I have friends who were skinheads. Although they now live in Chicago, they are still patriots. They tell me, "Paul, what can I do?! Should I go to the election? So what if I'm a patriot and I love Poland. I have lived in Chicago for fifteen years, so I don’t know what's going on in Poland and I don’t know who to choose". He told me that the right to vote should be like him, taken away, because he knows that he has Poland won’t come back. Who should he vote for? For myself? The views of people in Poland are different from the views of people who live in the United States.
In 2013, the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a total of 2727 passport documents, in 2014 2611, in 2015 3305 4. The Israeli journalist Itamar Eichner reported in 2012 that in the queues to the Polish consulate in Tel Aviv, as many as 55 percent of applicants are the third generation of Jews who came from Poland and only one out of every twenty people applying for a Polish passport is speaking in Polish. I once described it in the text for the New Confederation, which was later copied by a right-wing internet portal. From what I later learned, he recorded over 1.6 million entries there. Later, this text began to live on the internet with his own life and many times it was illustrated with photographs that were completely inadequate to the content I was talking about. Returning, however, to the merits. What do you think about the attitude of Jews from Israel who are trying to confirm their Polish citizenship only so that they can travel, study, work and live in the European Union without hindrance, and don’t know Polish and don’t want to learn it, and don’t even want to live and work in Poland?
What the descendants of Polish Jews in Israel are doing is a bit far-fetched. Everyone who benefits from the Polish citizenship should give Poland something. And it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew who comes from Poland or a Pole living in the United States. Being a patriot isn’t about proclaiming high-flying slogans. What will give us a shout to throw all Jews out of Poland? It won’t give us anything. Will the number of jobs increase in Poland? How many Jews are here? One thousand two hundred? It will eventually be more jobs for the one thousand two hundred. Working as a kosher supervisor, I see that the majority of people in Israel, who in this way obtain Polish passports, do so in order to open a business in Poland. They must have a branch in Poland and produce various things here.
Then they can freely trade with the European Union. This situation seems to be fine. If someone opened a factory in Poland, it means that by paying taxes he will leave money in Poland and give people a job.
4 In 2016, the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv issued 2665 passport files.
However, in view of the growing interest in Polish passports from the descendants of Polish Jews, do you really have more work in the supervision of kosher?
You can’t hide that there is something to do. My services are used, among others factories producing food, which is later sent from Poland to Israel, the United States or Great Britain. You need to check whether all products and semi-finished products have a kosher certificate. I like my job. I like travelling and meeting new people.
You are an indigenous Varsovian and a staunch supporter of Legia Warsaw.
You can’t hide. I am a fan all the time, though today, much more mature than ever. This is mainly due to the fact that I am just a much older person.
You're going to the matches at Legia Warsaw City Stadium of Marshal Józef Piłsudski?
Yes, I go. However, there was a time when I stopped walking. I dressed then quite traditionally. Honestly, I was a bit tired. Everyone was watching and was whispering to me. It wasn’t anti-Semitism, but I just raised too much attention around me. As a man knows Polish, he is getting tired of this murmur. If I didn’t know Polish and walked the street, and people would whisper something, it probably wouldn’t bother me. In addition to the feeling of fatigue, I also came to believe that it isn’t the robe that adorns a man, but whether its interior. It may be worth a little different approach to life and slow down a bit.
In 2013, the court sentenced a dozen or so fans of Legia Warszawa for shouting in 2011 at the match of Legia Warszawa and Widzew Łódź words: "Hamas, Hamas, Juden auf den Gas!", Or "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to gas!", ordering them, among others watching a feature film by Izabela Cywińska "Purimowy miracle", telling a story similar to yours.
The convicts explained that their cries had nothing to do with anti-Semitism. When during the Legia Warsaw vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv match in 2011, a banner with the inscription: "Jihad Legia" appeared on the grandstand of Legia Warsaw, the Association of Legia Warsaw Fans issued a statement explaining that: "Connecting «jihad» with anti-Semitism whether racism isn’t just a discrimination of one of the religious groups, but also a completely meaningless activity. Even if the Arabs belong to the Semites to the same extent as the Jews. A newspaper is known for racist criteria in the description of reality, but we believe that taking them from her is a threat to freedom of speech and, consequently, civil rights. Possible recognition of the legitimacy of any punishment for this banner will be nothing but an attempt to formally exclude one of the religious groups by recognizing its negative stereotype as true. And it will be a real act of anti-Semitism. (...) The height of hypocrisy in this situation is ignoring the fact that the supporters of the guests had flags with a hammer and sickle in the stands. We know from repeated statements of club representatives that "stadiums are places where there can be no political elements". Unless such an element is a hammer and sickle? It's good that this match didn’t take place on the anniversary of 17 September. Finally, we note that we've come to an unprecedented event. In Poland, during the match with the team from Israel, whose fans are popping up with communist symbols, there have been no anti-Semitic incidents in the stands - no singers or banners. It is worth publicly answering the question - thanks to whom did this happen? Who in this situation passed the exam?". Are these shouts and banners really hidden behind anti-Semitism, as it was described, among others, by "Gazeta Wyborcza" or, as the fans say, is it not related to it?
In fact, these are just slogans. The fans chant to the fans of the other team: " We'll do with you what Hitler do with Jews" or "Łódź is a typical Jewish village", but it has nothing to do with Jews. This can’t be combined with real threats of murdering Jews and burning them in the furnace. It's all just a language slogan. Never since 1993 did I meet at the stadium with slogans such as "Kill the Jews" or "Down with the Jews". I haven’t seen such content that would be directly addressed to Jews, and I have been to many matches. As for the leftists and their attitude to this type of slogans, they will always look for arguments to present how different minorities are discriminated, such as gays, lesbians, or Jews. However, they are not looking for any arguments at all, only arguments to incite society. Thanks to this, they emphasize and motivate their being. It also allows them to exist in public space. Walking and preaching certain slogans on the street, during parades of equality, is not, in my opinion, anything cool. Why demonstrate your otherness? I am different, and so I am. I don’t have to show it to anyone on the street or demand for strength that someone will accept me.
I understand that the Jewish March in Warsaw would be something wrong?
Of course, why should we march and demonstrate? We don’t want to achieve anything more. We have the kosher slaughter restored by the Constitutional Tribunal. We have restaurants, a synagogue, a cemetery and two kosher shops in Warsaw. Everything works. Nothing more is needed for happiness.
Probably not everything. You sent your son to the yeshiva in New York.
It is true. In Poland, unfortunately, there is no Yeshiva and you have to help other countries in this matter. I didn’t want to send him to Israel. So the United States was the most optimal choice. However, he has returned to Poland and is now studying here. He has acclimated himself and doesn’t want to go anywhere. He's fine here. I strongly imbued him with patriotism.
Soon you will probably need to look for your wife's son. I understand that only Jew is involved?
Rather, yes. This is a typically practical matter and one shouldn’t seek any discrimination of Catholics. That would be because I know only a problem for their child and they both had to leave the faith then. Until there is a child, husband can go to the synagogue and his wife to church. However, as children appear, everything would change, because it isn’t known whether to draw children to the church or to the synagogue. Forcing them to do something makes no sense.
The child will, in fact, live in a gap, and either a very tolerant person will grow out of it, or just to get the parents angry, for making him a hybrid, will completely leave the faith and grow up to be a bad man.
From the surveys of the Institute of Catholic Church Statistics covering the years 2012-2014, it appears that as many as 12 percent of priests met in Poland - in which over 90 percent of Poles consider themselves Catholics - with various types of discrimination. The reason for this discrimination was that they are priests. The results of these studies clearly show that the object of discrimination may be representatives of each social group. What is the situation of Jews in Poland on this background? Finally, Israel's prime minister Icchak Shamir, during the conflict over the transfer of Carmel in Auschwitz, said in an interview that "Poles suck up anti-Semitism with their mother's milk" and it is "deeply rooted in the tradition and mentality" of Poles. Although during his studies at the Józef Piłsudski University of Warsaw, Szamir was to experience the bench ghetto, and during the Second World War his father was to murder - in the town of Różany - Polish neighbors, whom his father previously considered his friends, the generalizations formulated by the Prime Minister of Israel contained a large dose of anti-Polonism. Later, Szamir explained his scandalous words, saying that his statement was by no means a collective accusation of the Polish nation. Milk, however, spilled and the message about the inherent anti-Semitism of the Poles went into the world. In 1991, in the Central synagogue in New York, as if in defiance of Szamir's words, Adam Michnik said: "The stubborn categorization of Poland as an anti-Semitic country was used in Europe and America as an alibi for the betrayal of Poland in Yalta. A nation so categorized was perceived as unworthy of sympathy or help or compassion". It seems that since then many things haven’t changed and we are still categorized in such a way. Do Jews really feel discriminated in such way in Poland today?
I have no idea why Jews would feel discriminated against in Poland. Of course, I met with anti-Semitism in Poland, but it wasn’t extreme anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism occurs when rallies or demonstrations against Jews are organized, proclaiming that they don’t want them here. We are also dealing with anti-Semitism if it attacks the Jews and beats them. I didn’t hear that a Jew was murdered in Poland, whether a Jew was murdered or that a synagogue was burnt. If someone paints some slogans on the synagogue, this isn’t anti-Semitism. It's just an act of vandalism and I approach it that way. I don’t want to use big words for such small things. It is very easy to accuse someone of anti-Semitism. What hurts me most, however, is when people say that this is not my home. When they turn back on the street and say to me: "Get out of here! Get out! Come back to yourself!". They don’t understand or don’t want to understand that I am at home! If my family is in Poland, at least since 1835, so what if I have Jewish roots? I was born in Poland, yes, Like all my family and I am fully Polish, if everyone checked their roots, what they find in them: Russians, Germans, Austrians, Tartars, everyone will find them. Such cries are very harmful to me, but they are the most common. No one cries out: "You are scandalous," but he cries out: "Come back to your country and don’t reign with us in our country". And what, I'm not at home? Where am I supposed to rule? This is something I don’t like very much This is something I do not like very much. The most funny thing is that the Jews rule Poland. I'm asking who Jews? I do not know any such Jew. People think about it very stereotypically. If, however, someone finds such a Jew, he is usually only a Jew after his father, so according to our approach, he isn’t really a Jew. To be a Jew, he must have a Jewish mother. Maybe if Jews ruled Poland, it would be better? I don’t know. I only know that there are no poor countries where there are large concentrations of Jews.
Rabbi Michael Schudrich showed me during an interview a newsletter which, as he put it, depicts "paranoid anti-Semitism". Such newsletters are, however, probably a rather niche and marginal phenomenon in Poland?
He showed it to me too and I laughed at it. There is no medicine for stupidity, however. People with mental illness can be treated, but stupidity can’t be cured. It may be anti-Semitism, but I would call it more stupid. If someone writes that if Hanukkah candles are lit, then Andrzej Duda will die, it's hard to comment at all. When lighting candles, there is no worship of a strange God. Catholics are also, after all, the Old Testament. Lighting Hanukkah candles in honor of the Temple of Jerusalem doesn’t break any Christian commandment. This can even be seen as showing respect for its original roots. Jesus, after all, was also a Jew. I always say that Jesus was the first reformer of Judaism. He carried out the first reform in our religion.