Meet Perez Krohn, who found his calling in Lodz
One of the communities Shavei Israel works with are the ‘Hidden Jews’ of Poland. These descendants of those few remaining Jews in Poland after the Holocaust who hid their Jewishness, are only finding out now about their Jewish heritage.
Lodz is one of the cities in Poland with both a rich and tragic Jewish history, as well as a Jewish renewal which Shavei is very involved in.
Recently, a man named Perez Krohn found himself in Lodz to help the community. This is his incredible story:
“It was an ordinary day. Just two days after the Purim holiday, 2022. I received a phone call from a certain organization in the USA, ‘We have a special request. Will you be able to be in the Lodz community in Poland during the upcoming Passover?’
“That wasn’t an easy question…
“I had just arrived in Israel after a decade of very important activity for a very important community in Ukraine. And I left the place during the war (between Russia and Ukraine) along with most of the community.
“I consulted a very important rabbi. And he told me, if you can help even one Jew, everything is worth it.
“Then I went to my father, who lives in Israel, to tell him my decision.
“He immediately started crying. It looked like he was crying with excitement…
“I asked him, ‘Dear father, why are you so excited?’
“And he answered me immediately, ‘My father was born in Lodz in 1919 and immigrated with his parents to the USA in 1925, and now you are going back there to strengthen Jews????’
“I didn’t quite understand this excitement until I arrived at the special and important community here in Lodz. When I arrived, I met a wonderful rabbi, Rabbi David Szychowski, who leads the community in a dignified and inspiring way, along the path of the holy Torah. With special gentleness, and listening to each and every person in his community.
“Amazingly enough, in the course of my activities in Lodz, I actually begin to discover many more details about my family who have lived here for at least the last 200 years! In all the generations, my ancestors used the same names that are still in the family today. Additionally, the same public positions, such as mohels, cantors, and rabbis remained in my family.
“Then we visited the big cemetery in the city of Lodz, and I found there the names of my family from all the past generations. Among them was a a holy rabbi, the writer of the book “The Crown of Shlomo” who was the head of the local rabbinical court and deputy chief rabbi for Lodz, about 180 years ago, HaGaon Rabbi Eliezer Krahan zt”l. Of course it gave me a lot more strength and a very big sense of mission for what I’m doing here right now. After seeing this information, I have a personal sense of connection to every stone and every old book that takes me back generations.
“And most of all, an understanding that I came here to continue the chain of generations of my family; not only for my family but for the people of Israel.”