For the first time, a Polish language guide on Hanukkah is being distributed to so-called hidden Jews throughout Poland
Newscaster: For the first time, a Polish language guide on Hanukkah is being distributed to so-called hidden Jews throughout Poland. Michael Freund, chairman of the “Shavei Israel” organization that published the book, says there is a Jewish renewal underway in Poland. He spoke to report Jackie Beecham.
Michael Freund: No one knows for sure just exactly how many hidden Jews there are in Poland, simply because by its very nature, the phenomenon has been underground now for several decades. But the various estimates are that there are upwards of 30,000-40,000 such people if not many more. Essentially, we know that after the Holocaust, many Jews who survived and returned to Poland chose to hide their identities because of the persecution that they endured under the Nazis, and because of the fear of oppression under the Communists. And in other instances, there were many Jewish children who were put up for adoption during the war with catholic neighbors or catholic institutions, their parents were murdered, and those children, in many instances, grew up as Polish-Catholics. And it”s only now in recent years that many of them or their children or even their grandchildren are discovering or rediscovering their Jewish roots.
Jackie Beecham: And why did you choose Hanukkah as the festival for a Polish-language guide, or are you issuing a number of guides for all the festivals?
Michael Freund: We”ve been involved in Poland now for a number of years, working with the hidden Jews. We have 3 rabbinical emissaries serving there in Warsaw and Krakow. We work together with Rabbi Michael Chudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland. And as part of our efforts, we publish a range of materials about Jewish history and Judaism in Polish. And it came to our attention that there was no clear and concise guide in Polish to the Holiday of Hanukkah, so we decided to put one together and to distribute it throughout Poland to the hidden Jews with whom were in contact.
Newscaster: Michael Freund, he was interviewed by Jackie Beecham.